Saturday, 25 August 2018 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Louis, and St. Joseph Calasanz, Priest (Gospel Reading)

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

Matthew 23 : 1-12

At that time, then Jesus said to the crowds and to His disciples, “The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees have sat down on the chair of Moses. So you shall do and observe all they say, but do not do as they do, for they do not do what they say. They tie up heavy burdens and load them on the shoulders of the people, but they do not even raise a finger to move them.”

“They do everything in order to be seen by people : they wear very wide bands of the Law around their foreheads, and robes with large tassels. They enjoy the first places at feasts and reserved seats in the synagogues, and they like being greeted in the marketplace, and being called ‘Master’ by the people.”

“But you, do not let yourselves be called Master, because you have only one Master, and all of you are brothers and sisters. Neither should you call anyone on earth Father because you have only one Father, He Who is in heaven. Nor should you be called Leader, because Christ is the only Leader for you.”

“Let the greatest among you be the servant of all. For whoever makes himself great shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be made great.”

Monday, 16 February 2015 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard the readings of the Scriptures which told us about how the first sons of mankind, Cain and Abel, got into conflict between them out of jealousy and due to the taint of sin in mankind’s heart. And in the Gospel we heard how Jesus refused to give the sign which the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had demanded from Him as a proof that He came from God.

Today’s readings are truly about us all, brothers and sisters. It is truly about ourselves and how we act in this life with regards to our own selves. We mankind are always by our nature selfish and thinking only about ourselves and acting for our own benefit. How many times in a day we utter the word ‘I’? Certainly in a lot of scenarios and circumstances we like to defend ourselves first and gain something for ourselves.

The same therefore happened in the case of Cain and Abel. Both of them gave their respective offerings and sacrifices to God on the altar. However, Abel’s sacrifice was more pleasing to Him than that of Cain’s. As a result, Cain was jealous of his brother, Abel, and in his mind he already plotted mischief and evil things for his brother. The rest of the story we have heard it, on how Cain murdered his brother and pretended not to know about it when the Lord asked him.

But God sees all and He knows all things that happen in this world. He knows all the thoughts of men, and whatever Cain had planned in evil thoughts and purposes against his brother Abel, the Lord knew them all. There is no escape for mankind to think of evil without the Lord knowing about it. Thus, it was the same as well when the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law tried to embarrass Jesus by asking Him for a sign. Jesus knew it all, and that was why in His heart, He was so deeply moved and disturbed.

Indeed, imagine what the Lord would have thought of this wayward creation of His, who have disobeyed Him so many times and broke His covenant so many times so that they all would have deserved annihilation and total destruction. But yet, the Lord was still willing to help them and He continued to love them nevertheless. Such is the greatness of His love for us! And yet, so many of us continue to ignore His love, reject His mercy and act in the same way as Cain had done, and as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done.

The psalm today indeed rightly criticised the latter, as if to foretell the actions of those who would hamper the works of the Lord. They pretended to love the Lord and obey Him, by the disguise of following and observing the laws, rites and customs which they also imposed on all others. In reality, in their hearts, there is not a place for God, but only their ego and their self-serving nature.

Thus, today we are all reminded to throw far, far away our ego and pride, which often will become a great stumbling block in our way to achieve salvation. Like Cain, who was older than Abel, it was likely that his pride and the attempt to preserve his ego that led him to contemplate such a great sin like murder, and a murder of one’s own brother no less. How many of us have harmed others around us, both intentionally or unintentionally because we are unable to control ourselves?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all called to grow stronger in faith and also in the grace of God, and become reduced in the self. Christ always taught us to love one another just as we love ourselves, and therefore, our consideration of the self, while it should still be there, should not come in the way of how we should love one another.

May Almighty God bless us always and may He guide us to live faithfully and serve Him with love, that we will grow less in our selfishness and individuality, growing more in our humility and desire to love each other, all brothers and sisters in the presence of God, and to love the Lord Himself with all of our strength. God bless us all. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Feast of our Lord Jesus Christ the King, Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost (Double I Classis) – Sunday, 26 October 2014 : Homily and Scripture Reflections

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate a great feast day of the Church as we come together to celebrate the kingship of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is indeed King, and King not just any other king, but the One True King, King over all of creation, and King over all of the universe. He is the King of kings, and the fount of true power and authority, from whom all the kings and rulers of this world eventually received their authority from.

Yes, for Jesus Christ our Lord is the Lord and God, and He is the Son of God, one of the Most Holy Trinity, One True God with Three distinct Aspects. And Jesus came into the world, taking up the form of a humble Man, a simple and poor Man, the son of a carpenter, born in a manger in a dirty and poor stable, even though He is a King, and the King above every other kings and rulers of the earth.

This is to show us all, and to show the world, that the kingdom of Jesus is the kingdom of God, which encompasses everything, and yet it is not of this world. It is not the same in nature as the kingdoms of this world, as the realms and countries of this world, and His kingship is also of a different nature, unlike that of the kings and rulers of the earth. Why is this so?

This is because, as Jesus said to Pontius Pilate, during the time when He was scourged before He went on to be crucified during His Passion, He is a King and His kingdom is the kingdom of truth, that is the truth of God, with true joy and true happiness that only God can give to mankind, who are His people, and whose King, the One True King is Christ Himself.

The kings and rulers of this world lives as the world has lived, and they lived in the way that the world had expected of them on how to live their lives and on how they ought to act. Many of these kings and rulers had power of the world and their dominion is in the world. And many of them become corrupted by the power and the authority they wielded, becoming tyrants and autocrats that oppressed the people for their own benefits.

Yes, many kings and rulers have plenty of wealth and riches of the world, and they have regular sumptuous banquets and meals with his subjects, especially the powerful and rich ones of the world who could afford to dine with the kings and the rulers. They often spend their money in various lavish things and used their possessions often without restraint. The rulers of the world indeed had been corrupted by the temptations which the world had provided.

Of course it does not mean that all of them were wicked, as there were also righteous and just rulers who used their power and authority, entrusted by God responsibly and with justice. But those who lived in the world and acted in accordance with the ways of the world are eventually bound to the rules and the ways of the world, and more likely than not, they committed things wicked in the sight of God.

Jesus reminded the world that His kingdom is not of the world, and thus unlike the rulers of the world, His power and authority does not depend on how much wealth and possessions that He possessed, and neither does He answer to the world and to its ways on all the things He has done. Whatever He has done, was done in the name of truth and the faith, in bringing about the kingdom of God.

Jesus always liked to say that the kingdom of God is near, and called the people to repentance to prepare themselves for the coming of that kingdom. And this call was also echoed by the prophets who came before Him, especially St. John the Baptist, who cleared the path for Him and straightened the way for the King. That is because the kingdom of Christ is the kingdom of truth, one that is to replace all falsehoods of the world, and to replace all the authorities and powers which the Lord had delegated to mankind.

Men had been entrusted to be the stewards of creation, that is to take care of the other things and creatures which God had created in this world. However, as time would tell, many of them fell short, and many misused their power to fulfill their own ego and desires. The lies of Satan and the temptations of the world overwhelmed them and made them to persecute those who have been trusted under them. And that is why we have so much sorrow in this world.

Kings fight with kings, rulers fight with kings and other rulers for various reasons, for the people, for wealth, for possessions, for women, for pleasures of the world, and for their own personal ambitions and ego. And often that the people suffered for their injustice and their ambitions, which they put above the welfare of the people entrusted under them.

How about Jesus? First we have already known that His kingship is not based on wealth or any properties of the world, but based on the truth of God solely, and that while the kings of the earth bicker over authority and over other things, Jesus the King was solely and completely obedient to the task which He came into the world for, that is the salvation of His people, the beloved ones of God.

And He who is King over all of us is also a caring and loving King, unlike some kings and rulers who loved themselves more, and who loved their money and possessions, and their titles and palaces more than they loved their people. They were the bad and evil shepherds who did not care for their sheep, entrusted to them by the Chief Shepherd, that is Jesus, King over all kings.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd, who truly knows His sheep, all and every one by name. He knows them and He guides them into the right paths, that is into His truth. And He did not even spare His own life to protect them and to ensure them the salvation which He had promised them. He is indeed the true King, the servant King, who served His people and devoted His entire being to help them and to love them tenderly and graciously.

Hence, brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we celebrate this great Feast of Jesus Christ the King, we do not just come to celebrate His great glory as the King of kings, but we also celebrate the love and dedication which He showed as King to all of His people, and all the works He had done with blood and sweat, suffering even death to purchase for us an eternal salvation with Him. Let us all also embrace the truth which He had brought into the world, for if we do not fully embrace that truth, that is our Faith in all of its fullness, then we cannot take part in the kingdom of Christ which is to come.

Thus, may Almighty God, our King of kings, the Master of all creations and of all the world be with us, and give us His awesome strength and power, that we may remain faithful to Him, our Good Shepherd, that we will not be led astray by the falsehoods of this world, which have brought down kings and rulers, betrayed by their own greed and ambition, and that all of us who have been entrusted with power and authority will emulate the example of the true Lord and King, Jesus Christ in all things.

Jesus our King and Lord, love us always and make us to be more like You, that the mightier one is, the humbler and the more dedicated one should become. Do not cast us away from Your kingdom, but help us when we fall, that we may be reunited with You in Your eternal kingdom and glory. Amen.

Friday, 24 October 2014 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are called to examine our own lives and the actions which we have taken in this life, and to ignore no longer our sinfulness and disobedience against the way and the will of the Lord. Our Lord Jesus Christ had made it very clear in the Gospel that we heard today, on how mankind can see things around them and made accurate prediction of things, but they failed to see what is in their own hearts.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is often indeed that we look at the outside and the exterior, seeing things around us and make a judgment, and we are indeed quick to judge and to come into a conclusion, but we fail to see what is inside us, the phenomena that is inside us, which is sin. And they also failed to see what the Lord had done, and when He came in the form of flesh in Jesus, they failed to recognise Him even though they were so apt and good in recognising everything else.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is the major weakness of mankind, as we often fail to recognise our own frailty and weaknesses, just as Jesus said, how we often like to point out the weakness in others and the sins of others, and yet we fail to see our own weakness, and this weakness is our sin and our iniquities. We are quick to point finger to blame others, but whenever we do so, we have to realise that while one finger is pointed at others, the other four fingers are pointed at us.

Sin is dangerous, brothers and sisters in Christ, for sin corrupts many things and sin prevents us from recognising the good that is around us. It covered our hearts in jealousy, pride, arrogance, hatred, desire, doubt and many other negative influences and aspects that prevent us from seeing good in others, seeing the bad in ourselves, seeing the good in ourselves, and ultimately, failing to see God who is ever present with us, and who guide us to the right path.

Do you wonder why the people of God failed to recognise Jesus when He came into the world, even though it was so obvious from what He had done during His life and ministry that He was the promised One, the Holy Anointed One of God whom the prophets had talked about throughout their many ministries among the people of God. The Scriptures and the Law themselves had also spoken about the Messiah who was about to come, and yet the people blinded by their sinfulness failed to realise this.

They persecuted the prophets and servants of God in their refusal to listen to the truth, because the truth was often painful for them, pointing out their shortcomings and inability to look into themselves and realise their sins. Thus in the same way, they too rejected Jesus the Messiah when He came among the people to do the same yet again.

They were too engrossed in themselves and in their own world, just as exemplified by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were adamantly against Jesus and His teachings. This is ironic considering that they were the ones who should know the most about the teachings of Moses, of the prophets and their prophecies, and of course of the Law. Thus, they should be the ones who proclaimed His coming and recognised Him through what He had done.

The sin in their hearts, which they allowed to grow accompanying their human desires and greed prevented them from doing so, and in the same manner, they incited the people of God to avoid following and trusting Jesus, by spreading lies about Him, all because of their jealousy, the jealousy of their hearts and the fear of losing their influence and power, as well as prestige and fame among the people. They feared losing these and put their own human ego ahead of their duty and responsibility of proclaiming the coming of God to His people.

It is indeed easy for us to point our own fingers at them, but are we too totally blameless? That is why it is nigh time for us to start examining our own lives and actions. How many times we actually refused to listen to the Lord speaking in our hearts and instead decide to follow our own desires and greed? How many times is it that in our live we have caused hurt and even harm to others because of our own selfishness?

Thus, if we look at ourselves, we are no better than the people of Jesus’ time and the Pharisees. Although we profess our faith in God, but our actions often said otherwise. Hence, brethren, this is the best time for us to begin to reinspect and reform our lives for the better according to what God had taught us. If we follow His ways, we will surely change and be transformed to better people.

And I would like to share with all of you the life of a saint whose feast we celebrate today, and whose life can also be an inspiration for us in walking in the path of the Lord. He is St. Anthony Mary Claret, the founder of the religious order famously known as the Claretians after their founder. St. Anthony Mary Claret was a bishop who lived in Spain about two centuries ago, who was renowned for his zeal and faith in God, and in the numerous works which he had done as a missionary and later as an Archbishop, establishing many good charitable acts and works for the sake of the least and the lost ones of the society.

St. Anthony Mary Claret served in many functions as a servant of God and His Church, zealously spreading the word of God to many people, especially to those who have yet to listen to the word and the Good News. He established many works and institutions of charity to help the poor and the marginalised in the society, and through his preaching, calling many of them to embrace the love and faith in God.

St. Anthony Mary Claret also wrote extensively on many aspects of the faith, and which writings become inspiration for many of the faithful in the years to come, including up to our generation, where his works and dedications for the people of God is truly a model for us all to follow. He reminded us indeed that in order for us to be true disciples of Christ, we cannot allow our personal and human vulnerabilities to come in the way of our faith.

That means we have to restrain ourselves, our human desire and emotions, and make the effort not to be controlled by these, as the people of the past and the Pharisees had done. We have to break free from the slavery and tyranny of sin, and thus we should really understand our own sinfulness, and seek ways to handle what had made us sin in the first place. Therefore, the key lies in humility and willingness to listen to the Lord and to walk in His ways, as well as our persistence and perseverance to resist the temptations that will always come our way.

Therefore, as St. Paul mentioned in the letter he wrote to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus, let us all be true servants of God and give ourselves completely and wholly to the Holy Spirit of God, which unites us in one Body of the Church of God, and in that unity, may we together find our way towards the Lord, avoiding all forms of fornications and corruptions.

May Almighty God strengthen our faith and help us to grow in our love and devotion towards Him, and with the inspiration by St. Anthony Mary Claret and the other holy saints, may we be able to find our way to the Lord, by doing what is right and just in the eyes of God, and by being able to look deep within ourselves, seeking the Lord’s mercy with humility for all the iniquities and sins we have committed. God bless us all. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 12 October 2014 : Homily and Scripture Reflections

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we come together to celebrate the love of God and to listen to His words as written and recorded in the Holy Scriptures. And St. Paul in his letter to the Church and the faithful in Corinth praised the people of God for their faith in God, and how the Lord Jesus affirmed the faith of all those who believed in Him, so that all of them will be justified at the end of time and not perish.

And in the Gospel, we heard about the healing of the paralytic man, that is a man who cannot move or walk due to the paralysis of the body, and Jesus healed him to show His power and authority over all things, all sins and diseases, both those of the body and those of the soul. Yes, that is why Jesus came into the world, to show the power of God by the healing of the sick, but more than just the body, as more important is the healing of the soul.

Jesus is the Lord, the God of all creations. One and only God, not created but existing and with the Father before all ages and before the beginning of the reckoning of time, and before creation. He was with the Father and the Holy Spirit, as a trinity of Godhead, Three separate and equal brings, but one in nature. This is our faith and this is what we believe in, in the Most Holy Trinity, Three Godhead but One in perfect unity of love, the One True God, whom the people of Israel also believed in.

And thus, He who is the Word of God, who created heaven and earth and all the creatures and creations in them, was willing to come down upon us, to be with us and to walk among us, taking in humility our humble human form, not that of a king but the lowly Son of a carpenter of Nazareth, that through Him, what God had planned for the salvation of mankind might proceed and be fulfilled completely.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we know that men often fall sick, suffering from the disease of the body. We know now of many diseases, both those that are contagious and non-contagious. We know of the recent outbreak of Ebola virus in Africa, of which many thousands have died, and many thousands more suffered from the disease. And we know how many millions are affected by dengue fever, malaria, polio, smallpox and many other diseases, which many of these cause not just suffering and pain, but eventually even death.

And death comes especially when the disease is left untreated, either because the sufferers are unable to afford the fees needed to cure their respective illnesses, or that the disease itself has yet to be curable, namely no cure has yet to be found. Some disease like HIV, diabetes, cancer and others have not yet been curable, and hence what doctors can do, is mostly to reduce the suffering, or in the case of cancer, that is to excise and cut out the cancerous cells to remove them from the body, or to use chemicals to kill and destroy them.

But all these bodily diseases, illnesses and afflictions pale in comparison to the disease of our heart and soul, namely sin. Sin is indeed a disease, since it attacks us in the depth of our own beings, and not just our soul and heart can be affected, but even our body, for the body obeys the will of our heart and soul. And if sin corrupts our heart and soul, our body will likely also be corrupted by the same sin.

And sin is more dangerous and harmful than the effects of the bodily diseases that I mentioned earlier on. It does not mean that those bodily diseases are trivial, but considering their seriousness and the sufferings they can inflict on us, then we should be even more aware of the kind of harm which sin can cause to us. Remember that Jesus said, that we do not need to fear those that can bring about the destruction of the body, but we ought to worry indeed, those that can bring about the destruction of the soul.

One of the intentions of Jesus is indeed that, we should not fear the devil and his agents. We have seen how scary and destructive they may seem to look, but they have no power over us. They may strike at our body, but they cannot harm our soul. The One who can bring about the destruction of our soul is indeed God Himself, the Lord and Master of all, who has the authority over all things. We know of the Last Judgment, and how the righteous will be separated from the wicked, and while the righteous will enjoy the fruits of God’s promise and love, the wicked will suffer for eternity. What will they suffer for? For their sins indeed!

Yes, so we need to indeed be wary of sin, and how it can bring about our destruction, and how it can harm us both in this life, and the life that is to come. That is why our Lord Jesus is the One with the power and authority to forgive sins. He is the One with the power to heal us from all of our afflictions, body and soul. That is why He rebuked the Pharisees when they doubted His ability to forgive sins, and even accused Him of blasphemy.

Why so? This is because they failed to recognise Christ, when it was so clear that the prophets from all ages had spoken about the Messiah who was to come. And in Jesus all of their prophecies, and all the promises of God were fulfilled. He is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, and all who believe in Him will gain life eternal, and total liberation from the sins that have chained us mankind to death.

That marked the difference between the paralytic man and the Pharisees. Both of them were afflicted, with sin and darkness in their hearts. But the paralytic man listened to the Lord and allowed Him to work His wonders in him, healing him from all of His afflictions. Thus, if we follow the Lord and remain completely faithful to Him, we will gain healing through Him and be made justified through our faith, and thus eligible of eternal life.

On the other hand, if we act like the Pharisees, thinking that we are perfectly alright and have no need for healing, then the pride, greed, arrogance and wickedness in our hearts, just as they were in the hearts of the Pharisees and the scribes will be our undoing. Is this what we want for ourselves? Certainly not. Therefore, it is imperative that we take heed of what our Lord Jesus had done and what He had taught and shown us through our Faith and through the Scriptures.

May Almighty God therefore guide us, heal us from our afflictions, empower us, and grant us strength, as well as humility, so that we may have the courage and will to ask Him humbly to heal us and to make us whole again, that we sinners, filled with the sins of our ancestors and the sins of our own daily lives, may be made pure like snow, white and pure as a diamond, and be cleansed from all the diseases of our body and soul. That in the end, after excising all that is evil from our beings, and after decisively rebuking Satan, we are precious and worthy, and are welcome into the eternal life God had prepared for us all. Amen.

Thursday, 2 October 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 18 : 1-5, 10

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Then Jesus called a little child, set the child in the midst of the disciples, and said, “I assure you that, unless you change and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.”

“Whoever becomes lowly like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever receives such a child in My Name receives Me. See that you do not despise any of these little ones, for I tell you : their angels in heaven continually see the face of My heavenly Father.”

Wednesday, 1 October 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of Missions (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 18 : 1-5

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Then Jesus called a little child, set the child in the midst of the disciples, and said, “I assure you that, unless you change and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.”

“Whoever becomes lowly like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever receives such a child in My Name receives Me.”

(Usus Antiquior) Feast of Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel (I Classis) – Monday, 29 September 2014 : Homily and Scripture Reflections

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great feast of a great protector, our great defense against the assaults of the evil one, Satan, the prince and progenitor of all evils. We celebrate today the feast of the chief of all the angelic hosts of heaven, that is St. Michael the Archangel, prince of all the angels, and chief of the seven Archangels who served before the throne of God.

The angels were created by the Lord to be His servants, that is to be the ones who carry out His will throughout the world, to be His messengers and the bearers of His good works, to exercise His power throughout the universe He had created. He created angels of many forms and kinds, and they have various tasks and functions, depending on how they were created.

Just like men, when we were first created, the angels were initially pure and blameless, free from what is now called as sin, the impurities and imperfections that blemished the purity of creation, through disobedience against the will of God. The angels too, were granted free will just like us, so that, just as we are able to choose our path and destination in life, then they too were able to choose.

But everything was good and perfect, just as our ancestors once lived in perfect peace and harmony in the gardens of Eden, the angels were all pure and immaculate, free from all evil and taints of sin, that is until the corruption and fall of Lucifer, the greatest, brightest and the mightiest of all the angels, and unfortunately, his pride too was the greatest of all the angels, his vanity and sense of superiority over others, which proved to be his greatest undoing.

While now we speak of St. Michael the Archangel as the chief of all the heavenly hosts, he was not made such because of his greatness and his power or might, neither it was because he was the most beautiful or splendid among the angels of God. It was rather because of St. Michael’s great obedience and faith in the Lord, which made him to be the greatest defender of the Lord and His beloved people against the forces of evil.

For as mentioned, that Lucifer was once the greatest and the mightiest among the angels, but this made him proud beyond any pride, and he began to plot his rise among the angels, and eventually even boasted that he would make his throne rise above the stars of God, namely the angels, to be the ruler of them, and displacing God as the ruler over all creations.

Lucifer was proud and haughty, and he was brought down, because he was thinking too highly of himself, aspiring to be the ruler of all surpassing the Creator, while he is merely a creation, albeit a glorious and great one at that. On the contrary, St. Michael was known for his great faith and piety, and the complete trust he has for the Lord. And in addition to this, he was also told to be trembling at always before the presence of God.

This does not mean that St. Michael was fearful or weak, but rather, in doing so, he actually by himself acknowledging the superiority of God, and how great God is as compared to himself. It is his humility, courage and piety which made the Lord to choose him and honour him to be the great commander of His heavenly forces. And he courageously led the forces of the faithful against the deceiver and the evil one, the fallen Lucifer, who was struck down and cast out of heaven, to suffer for eternity the fate prepared for him.

The examples of St. Michael’s faith, piety, dedication and courage therefore should become guiding lights for us to follow, that in our actions and deeds, we may model them after what St. Michael had once done, and what he is doing now, that is leading the hosts of the Lord in a constant and regular battle for the salvation of our souls, against Satan, the fallen Lucifer, and his allies, those angels who were also ensnared in his pride and vanity, and ended up rebelling against God.

We mankind are special indeed, for we are the greatest of God’s creations, including even the angels, and we are the most beloved ones of all the things which God had created. As such, while the angels who rebelled were given no second chance to turn back to the Lord, and receive forgiveness, we mankind alone had been given this gift of forgiveness, that as long as we repent our sins and rebelliousness, and if we are willing to follow the way of the Lord, we will be saved.

That is why, even though our ancestors had disobeyed the Lord, through the instigation of the snake, the form assumed by the fallen Lucifer, who wanted mankind to also follow into his rebellion, God gave us a second chance, and by no other means than to send His very own Son, part of Himself, Jesus Christ our Lord, to assume our own form, and through what He had done, He gave up His life and through His sacrifice, gained for us a new hope and a new justification in Himself.

And we also have to note that the Lord is thoroughly concerned with us, brothers and sisters in Christ. He is truly concerned about our fate, and whether we will share the fate of the devil, that is to suffer in the hell fire, or to be reunited with Himself in perfect love and harmony, just as what He intended for us at the very beginning when He first created us.

That is why, He sent us Jesus His Son, so that through what He taught His disciples, and from them passed down to us, we may all know what we need to do in order to avoid the dark fate which awaits us if we remain in our life of sin. But we need to be aware that, what Jesus said today in the Gospels, we should not interpret or take it literally, which means that if a part of our body made us to sin, then we should not chop it off just like that.

There is indeed wisdom and thought put into that kind of decision, to cut off the part that corrupts the entire body and soul, but that also means that we can no longer do good with the same part of the body, which God had given us. This is where we need to truly understand, that what the Lord means is that, we have to really do our best to excise from ourselves any actions or parts which have been great hindrances to our salvation, beginning from within ourselves.

Sin corrupts everything it touches, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, and it is caused by the accumulation of the negativity in our hearts, of which things such as pride, jealousy, hatred, greed and many others consist of. And it was this same thing that had corrupted even the greatest and the brightest of the angels into rebellion against God and therefore sinned against Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore let us renew our faith in the Lord, not by just mere empty words and promises, but also through real action and devotions, that is by following the examples of St. Michael the Archangel. Let us excise from our hearts, all evils and darkness, that we may truly become pure and worthy of the Lord once again. We can do this by sincere love and devotion to the Lord, and by listening to what He had said to us through Jesus.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all sharpen the edges of our humility and obedience to God, that we may always listen to Him and follow Him, obeying Him in His will for us rather than to listen to our own desires and pride, as Lucifer had done. Let us all not be enslaved by our emotions and pride, that we may truly rebuke Satan and let him to suffer alone the fate which he had earned for himself. Do not let him to drag us into hellfire, brethren!

Let us pray and ask for the help and intercession of St. Michael the Archangel and the holy angels, so that they may help us and protect us from all the harm which the evil one and his allies, the fallen angels had intended for us. St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, so that by the power of God, you who are the prince and leader of all the heavenly hosts, may smite down Satan and all his lies, and all those who are working their evils in our world, seeking after the ruination of all the souls of the faithful. Amen.

Saturday, 13 September 2014 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of a great saint of the Church, one of the Four Great Doctors of the Church, and one of the most brilliant minds ever to come from the Church in the Eastern parts of the Roman Empire at the time. St. John Chrysostom is this saint, who was the Archbishop of the great See of Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire during the early fifth century after the birth of Christ.

St. John Chrysostom was born from a relatively unknown parentage, and it was disputed whether his mother was a pagan or a Christian. In any case, St. John Chrysostom was baptised when he entered adulthood, and it was discovered that he had a great intellectual mind, and he easily went through his studies of literature and philosophy.

However, as time progressed, St. John Chrysostom turned more and more towards the Lord and dedicated his life to His service. His sermons and speeches were greatly influential and inspirational, based on the deep understanding and comprehension of the Gospels and the fundamentals of faith, through which he gained his title of Chrysostomus, which literally means ‘golden-mouthed’.

St. John Chrysostom preached in many parts of the Empire, and in one occasion his sincere and passionated plea to the pagans who were accused of the defilement of the statues of the Emperor in the city of Antioch brought thousands and more to see the error of their ways, and thus, they were received into the Church and was spared both the punishment and persecution by the Emperor, and even more importantly, they evaded the punishment and destruction of the soul by receiving the salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Even after St. John Chrysostom had been appointed as the Archbishop of Constantinople, one of the most prominent position in the Church, in fact just second after the Pope in Rome himself, St. John Chrysostom remained humble and dedicated in his service to the people of God, the sheep entrusted to him. St. John Chrysostom rejected the extravagant and lavish ways of the society at the time and pushed for a true Christian community founded on love.

He did not fear even to oppose the mighty and the powerful. When the Empress Aelia Eudoxia lived extravagantly, he greatly criticised her for her way of life and actions. Together with his enemies, the Empress plotted together and managed to cast St. John Chrysostom into exile, which would indeed have ended his works for the Church, but the people of God were incensed, and divine wrath itself soon manifested in a great earthquake and fire that devastated many parts of the capital.

But even after St. John Chrysostom was recalled back to his mission in the Church, the Empress continued to defy the way of the Lord, as she continued to live extravagantly and even installed a silver statue of herself near the cathedral of St. John Chrysostom, purposely to provoke him into action. And indeed, St. John Chrysostom denounced the Empress again, and as her punishment, she died during childbirth.

But St. John Chrysostom continued to suffer as his enemies continued to plot against him and persecuted him. He was sent again into exile and died before he was able to return to shepherd his sheep again at Constantinople. Nevertheless, his legacies lasted long after him, even until today. He was credited for his many works and sermons that inspired many of the faithful and even many saints who came after him.

And his works also resulted in one of the rites used in the Eastern Church even until today, as the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, one of the most solemn liturgical rites of the Church, designed solely for the glorification of the Lord. Thus, this holy man and servant of God is the one whose life and actions we celebrate on this day as we gather together.

How is this related to the readings of the day? Very much related indeed. This is because as Jesus said in the Gospel, that good fruits can only be produced by good and healthy trees, vice versa. Bad and rotten trees can only produce bad and rotten fruits. Thus, St. John Chrysostom, that good tree, produce only good fruits for the benefits of the faithful. Similarly this is also the case for the other saints, the holy servants of God.

And he listened to the word of God intently, placing them into the depths of his heart, and most importantly, he acted on them, and from there brought about much good for the Church and for the faithful ones in the Lord. Thus, his actions were the representation of the man who built his house on solid rock foundation, and therefore had no need to fear the storms or any forces arrayed against it.

On the other hand, those who refused to listen to the word of God were like those who built their houses on unstable ground, on weak foundations that are easily swept away by winds and waves, and therefore representing the actions of the wicked ones opposed to the works of St. John Chrysostom, namely the Empress and his rivals, who were engrossed so much in the ways of the Lord, that they failed to even see that what they were doing was their own undoing.

And St. Paul in his letter to the faithful in the city of Corinth clearly and zealously stated that we who are faithful ought not to have any share in the communion with demons, that is with Satan and his allies, the forces of darkness in the world. Instead, we who are the children of God should be like St. John Chrysostom, in how he worked hard with zeal to bring the word of God to many of God’s people so that they may achieve salvation.

How do we know if we have made a communion with the Lord or with the evil one? It is basic and simple indeed. We have to first be aware that all of us who are in the Church of God are part of one Body, that is the Body of Christ, which is the union of all who shared in the Body and Blood of Christ, who had worthily become part of the Body of Christ, Christ is in them and they are in the Lord. It is inconceivable that a part of the Body of Christ should be flawed with the darkness of evil.

Thus if we commit evil, just as what those people mentioned earlier had done, in preserving their own vanity, concerned only for their own prosperity and in slandering others, worse that is to even put an obstacle on the works of the servant of God. In doing these evils, they committed sin before the Lord, and therefore entered into communion with the devil. For the devil too, rebelled against the Lord because of his pride and vanity.

Therefore, as we are part of the Church of God, and we have become the children of God, let us all realise that all of us must act therefore as how a child of God should behave. Listen to the Lord, work on what we believe in and practice our faith in our lives. Love one another and love the Lord just as much as we love ourselves. If we do all these, we will be surely be granted favour by the Lord.

May Almighty God therefore grant us His grace, that He may empower us to live according to what St. John Chrysostom had once done. Let us all treasure this communion we share with one another, the communion and unity as the one Body of Christ, those who have received the Most Precious Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Keep us, Lord, on the path towards salvation, and let us not to fall into evil. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 7 September 2014 : Homily and Scripture Reflections

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Holy Gospel in which we heard about how Jesus Christ our Lord have made full ten lepers who were cast out from the society of their time because of their leprosy, and yet only one out of the ten healed lepers, a Samaritan, returned to Lord Jesus and gave thanks to Him, showing the faith that he had.

And in the Epistle we heard how St. Paul reminded the faithful in the Church in Galata on the inheritance of Abraham, and what God had in store for mankind, the descendants of Abraham, the father of nations, and who are also the children of God. St. Paul mentioned how the Lord tried to bring mankind back to His grace and love, and how He cared for these wayward children of His, that He desires to heal them from their afflictions, that is none other than sin.

For if the Gospel today talked about the healing of the ten lepers, who suffered from the physical condition called leprosy, then all mankind are also afflicted with leprosy, namely the leprosy of the soul, the corruption of our beings by sin and evil. These sins and darkness in the world are blemishes that keep us away from the goodness and perfection in the Lord, and prevent us from truly seeking Him and finding our way to Him.

We have to first understand, the importance and how leprosy was a serious condition and affliction for the people of Israel at the time. It was a contagious disease, one that caused someone to feel numb in the extremities of the organ, and eventually lose those limbs, be it fingers, toes, or even limbs without feeling the pain. And the leprosy disease also caused a visible change to the appearance of the parts that it infected, which allow others to tell of someone suffer from leprosy.

We now know that this condition is caused by a virus that affects and attacks the nervous system and the skin, which caused the symptoms shown above. And as such, this is also why this disease is contagious, as it can spread from one person to another. This disease was therefore seen by the society as a sign that someone is unclean and that these people should be cast out from the society to prevent them from infecting others.

Thus, if we look at the laws of Moses, in which the Lord made evident His Law and precepts to the people through Moses His servant, one dealt specifically with the issue of leprosy and what to do with those who were afflicted with them, the lepers. These people ought to leave their homes and their communities, and wonder away in the wilderness and the desert until they are healed, that is until when they no longer show a symptom of the disease.

If we look at it further, the purpose of the Law may seem to be quite harsh on the people, although indeed we can see how it is useful and beneficial for the society as a whole, as if not for this law and regulation, then more people might be affected and more lives might be lost, and thus the whole society itself might be affected. It is therefore there for a practical reason.

However, it over time led to the persecution and total rejection of these people afflicted with the disease, that even after they have been healed, the stigma would remain. In essence, this is no different from when in other societies, those who suffer from infectious diseases, some of them sexually transmitted, became a stigma in the society, and this stigma remains with them even if they are to be cured. They are ostracised and cast out of the society.

Thus, what Jesus today wanted to tell us is that all of the children of God are beloved by the Lord, as St. Paul mentioned, that everyone are the descendants of Abraham, and just as God had made the covenant with the faithful Abraham and his descendants, we too will enjoy the fruits of that covenant as long as we remain faithful to the Lord. And therefore, we should not be judgmental or be proud of our own achievements and goodness over others’ apparent lack or disabilities.

Lepers were highly looked down upon by the Jews of Jesus’ time, and the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law in particular had very low opinion on them. They were not welcome at the Temples and people fled in fear when a leper came towards them or even when a leper was merely in the vicinity. But Jesus did things differently, and He did not mind at all to be approached by the ten lepers, who openly asked the Lord for mercy and healing, and that He granted them, making them whole once again.

He blessed them and made them whole, for indeed He had authority over all things, even all diseases and afflictions of the body and soul. But what is interesting is what came next after Jesus told them to go and present themselves to the priests. They were not immediately made clean and whole by Jesus, but they were made clean as they proceeded to the priests. Yet, as they realised their wholeness and healing, only one out of the ten turned back and give thanks to the Lord, to Jesus, who is Lord and God.

How many times is it in our lives that we are given goodness and blessings by the Lord, and we did not give Him thanks? And instead we spite Him and became angry at Him whenever we did not get what we wanted. We always demanded the Lord to listen to our pleas, and even to our desires and wants, and yet we never stopped to listen and to give thanks to Him whenever He did something good to us.

In this, the ten lepers were different, in that only one of them were truly made clean and whole by Jesus our Lord, that is the Samaritan. The Samaritan recognised what God had done for him, and consequently, returned to give thanks first in joy to the Lord, and rejoice together with Him, while the other nine lepers went happily on their way, thinking that they have been made clean.

The other nine lepers represented many of us in this world, who are still often plagued not by the leprosy of the body and the skin, but by the leprosy of the soul, that is sin! And indeed, mankind are truly vulnerable to this leprosy of the soul, which is equally if not more contagious than the physical leprosy. Desire, greed, pride, arrogance, anger, wroth and other negative emotions and things in life are only some of the aspects of this leprosy.

Thus the nine other lepers did not return to give thanks, because in the leprotic state of their hearts and souls, their pride and selfishness grew strong, and therefore they were loath to lower themselves to give thanks to God for their healing. Instead, they gave in to their joy and pleasure, and forgot about God, just as many of us often did. We often became so engrossed in our joy and in the pleasures of the world, so as to forget the love of God, who so generously gave us everything we need.

And lastly, why the Samaritans are always portrayed on the good side? If we remember last Sunday’s readings on the Good Samaritan helping the man attacked by bandits on the way from Jerusalem to Jericho, while the priest and the Levite walked pass him by, and then link it to today’s readings on the grateful Samaritan, then we can see indeed, that Jesus wanted to make an example to others.

As we all should know, the nation of the Samaritans, known as the region of Samaria, was once the heart of the northern kingdom of Israel. It was where the ten tribes of Israel, the lost ones of the Lord were plucked out of their homes and cast into exile by the King of the Assyrians, who destroyed the northern kingdom seven centuries before the birth of Christ.

In their place, many nations conquered by the Assyrians were resettled on the area, together with some leftovers of the ten lost tribes of Israel. They intermingled and eventually became known as the Samaritans, based on where they resided in, in the land of Samaria. The Jews were the descendants of the exiles of the kingdom of Judah, the southern kingdom, who were jealously and proudly proud of their orthodoxy and in their vigilance in maintaining the faith of their fathers.

As such, they despised heavily the Samaritans to the point that no one ought to talk to them, and they were considered as pagans, barbarians and lesser than humans, to the point that they were seemingly condemned to oblivion and damnation, while the Jews thought of themselves as the chosen race of God and thus the only ones worthy of salvation. What Jesus did and what the example of the Samaritan served to break all that prejudice and false ideas.

As St. Paul put it clearly, that transgressions and sin had caused our separation from the Lord and His love, and it is this love that made God to send no one else other than Jesus, His own Son to be the Saviour of all mankind, to make whole again an entire people tainted by sin. It was stressed that salvation comes through the Mediator, who is Jesus Christ our Lord, who through His sacrifice on the cross had made us worthy, but only to those who believe in Him.

And the Samaritan believed, and he returned to give thanks, acknowledging what God had done for him, and in that he was saved. The others did not believe what God had done to them through Jesus, and as many others, including many of us whose actions do not represent our status as the children and servants of God, and therefore we are in danger of being cast out of salvation which God reserved only for those who truly believed and those who truly loved the Lord with the fullness of their heart and soul.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we gather together and celebrate with the Lord His sacrifice on the cross, let us all examine our own actions and deeds in this life. We have to ask ourselves, on whether we have lived according to the way the Lord had pointed to us, or whether we acted more like the nine other lepers who gave in to their carnal desires and to the temptations of the world? Shall we not rather do our best to resist the corruption of this leprosy of the soul that is sin?

Remember brethren, that this world is full of challenges, and although our divine inheritance is waiting for us, the covenant which God had established with us through Jesus, but we cannot be complacent. We must be ever vigilant, that our faith should remain strong and that we remain closely guarded against all the lies and temptations of the evil one, that we may not fall into damnation. Remember the Lord always in all things, giving Him thanks when it is due, for all the goodness He had showered us with.

May Almighty God clean us and make us whole once again, casting out the leprosy of our soul, that is sin which tainted our heart and mind, so that our body and soul cleansed, we may together rejoice in the Lord and be accepted with fullness of gladness and joy at the end of our road, when the Lord welcomes us back into His loving embrace, to enjoy the inheritance He had promised us through Jesus. Let us all do our best to live righteously and courageously, and to proactively protect ourselves and avoid committing any forms of sin that mag corrupt our soul. May God bless us forever and ever. Amen.