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.”