Thursday, 7 January 2016 : Thursday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard of the proclamation of Jesus as the Holy One of God, the Anointed One, the Messiah or Saviour which the prophets of the old days had spoken about, revealing to all mankind of the plan of salvation through which our loving and devoted God had planned for us all, to bring us all out of our misery into the everlasting happiness to be found in Him.

Through Jesus, a people who have long awaited for their salvation and for the coming of their Saviour had seen and witnessed how their God Himself came among them and touched the least and the forgotten ones among them, healing them from their afflictions and carrying them back from the precipice of darkness and back into the light and grace of God.

God has not abandoned us all even though we have often abandoned Him and rejected Him for the preference of the world and all of its good offers, and thus, while we have sinned and deserved eternal damnation and death, but God Who created us and loved us all dearly since the beginning wanted to give all of us a chance.

This is why through Jesus, God wanted to show us His mercy and forgiveness, the care and concern which He showed to all of those who have been lost in their way in the world, just as He made it clear that He came to seek those who had been lost and those who have erred, those who were tainted and darkened by their sins and wickedness.

God healed them and made them whole again, filling up their beings not just with the physical food that satisfies the stomach, but also with the spiritual blessings and nourishment that fills up and satisfies the heart and the soul. And even though once we were delinquents and rebels who refused to comply and obey the laws and the commandments of our God, but God is willing to give us a chance.

Nevertheless, it does not mean that we should take His kindness, love and mercy for granted. We must take whatever opportunity He has given us, and do not wait until it is too late for us, or try to test God’s patience in His generous grant of mercy to all of us. In this we should heed what our Lord Jesus told His disciples in another occasion on the parable of the five wise women and the five foolish women.

The wise women were ready for the coming of the bridegroom and they had prepared amply for the provision of their lamps so that when the bridegroom came at the unexpected hour, they were ready and were therefore able to join him in the banquet prepared for them. Meanwhile, the foolish women did not prepare themselves beforehand, and they were caught unprepared when the bridegroom came, and they were left out.

Similarly therefore, it is important for us all to be ready and to welcome God’s mercy fully into ourselves. Let us commit ourselves and devote ourselves to receive worthily God’s mercy and love. And in this let us all follow the example shown by St. Raymond of Penyafort, a holy servant of God whose feast we are celebrating on this day.

St. Raymond of Penyafort was Dominican priest and a famous preacher who was renowned in his many works on the faith, and in how he zealously lived his life in ever preparedness and readiness for the Lord. He also refused the temptations of worldliness and human power, and instead, despite his fame and position, once appointed to lead his congregation, he remained very humble.

His examples in how he lived his life and how he committed himself to his faith can be examples for us all in how we should live out our own faith. If we can dedicate ourselves and commit ourselves to the Lord in the same way as this holy man of God had done, trusting in God’s love and mercy, then surely we shall be blessed and the inheritance of eternal joy and grace of God will be ours.

May God be with us all and may He continue to strengthen us in our faith, so that in all the things that we say and do, we may always align ourselves to the Lord and be always found in His grace. God bless us all, now and forever. Amen.

Thursday, 7 January 2016 : Thursday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 4 : 14-22a

At that time, Jesus acted with the power of the Spirit; and on His return to Galilee, the news about Him spread throughout all that territory. He began teaching in the synagogues of the Jews and everyone praised Him.

When Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, as He usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed Him the book of the prophet Isaiah.

Jesus then unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written : “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. He has anointed Me to bring Good News to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and new sight to the blind; to free the oppressed and to announce the Lord’s year of mercy.”

Jesus then rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. Then He said to them, “Today these prophetic words come true, even as you listen.” All agreed with Him, and were lost in wonder, while He spoke of the grace of God.

Thursday, 7 January 2016 : Thursday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 71 : 1-2, 14 and 15bc, 17

O God, endow the King with Your justice, the Royal Son with Your righteousness. May He rule your people justly and defend the rights of the lowly.

He rescues them from oppression and strife, for their life is precious to Him. May gold from Sheba be given Him. May people always pray for Him, and blessings be invoked for Him all day.

May His Name endure forever; may His Name be as lasting as the sun. All the races will boast about Him, and He will be blessed by all nations.

Thursday, 7 January 2016 : Thursday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 4 : 19 – 1 John 5 : 4

So let us love one another, since He loved us first. If you say, “I love God,” while you hate your brother or sister, you are a liar. How can you love God Whom you do not see, if you do not love your brother whom you see? We received from Him this commandment : let those who love God also love their brothers.

All those who believe that Jesus is the Anointed, are born of God; whoever loves the Father, loves the Son. How may we know that we love the children of God? If we love God and fulfil His commands, for God’s love requires us to keep His commands. In fact, His commandments are not a burden because all those born of God overcome the world. And the victory which overcomes the world is our faith.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, as we are approaching Christmas in two days’ time, we heard about St. John the Baptist, whose role was truly great but many of us did not realise how crucial he was to the plan of salvation. Indeed his role was less than that of our Lord Himself, the Saviour, and that of His blessed mother Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant. Yet, through the acts of this faithful, holy and devoted servant of God, the world which had for long lost its hope, heard the beautiful news of the coming of God’s salvation.

For John the Baptist was what God had promised to His people through the prophets, as He spoke of him to the prophet Isaiah as a voice proclaiming in the wilderness of the coming of God’s kingdom and His salvation, and as the messenger which God had promised who would make straight His paths when He came into this world, as the one who would initiate the beginnings of God’s work of mercy in this world.

And even though his role as the Herald of the Messiah and the King of the Universe was truly great, prestigious and incomparable in some way, but he remained humble and committed to his mission as a servant, and he refused to give in to human pride and desire, as whenever people asked him whether he was the Messiah, he rejected it and said that he was not the Messiah, but the one who would precede Him and who would proclaim Him to the world when He revealed Himself.

And in another occasion, St. John the Baptist also humbly proclaiming that he was not even worthy to untie the straps of the sandals of the Lord, and how when his disciples complained about the growing popularity of Jesus, he proclaimed openly that while He increased in might, power and popularity, he as the servant who had done what he had been tasked to do, should decrease and become less important.

From this we can learn very important lesson about ourselves, as St. John Baptist had shown us the way of the servant of God, faithful, committed and devoted to the truth that God had brought into this world. This Christmas and all of its celebrations is not about us, and it is not about how much wealth, glamour and bling that we can showcase to one another, and not about the rich foods and drinks, and all the other worldly things that we share with one another. It is truly about the Lord.

Yes, it is rather about the joy that our Lord had brought into the world, to all of us, because we who were once destined to be damned and destroyed, to suffer forever the torment and the torture of our eternal soul in hell because of our disobedience and our sins against Him, had been given a new hope of salvation and a new life which He promised to all of those who are willing to change themselves and follow Him.

Let us today, as we reflect on the examples of humility and obedience of St. John the Baptist, also reflect on what St. John of Kanty, a priest and saint whose feast we celebrate today, in what he has done in his own earthly life. St. John of Kanty was a Polish priest known also as St. John Cantius, who was renowned for his dedication and commitment to the Lord, and how he served and helped the poor around him by his many works and his charities.

He was thoroughly dedicated to the advancement of the knowledge of the divine truth, and by his long years of studies and by the many works and many manuscripts that he had written, he had inspired many people to live their lives faithfully to the Lord and to accept the fullness of truth as espoused by the Church and its teachings.

The same thing St. John Baptist had also done as what St. John of Kanty had done in his life, in proclaiming the truth of the Lord, as He was coming into the world in Jesus Christ, and thus these two devoted servants of the Lord preached the true joy of Christmas that is to come, that is our Lord, our True and only Joy. And in doing so, they remained humble and unassuming, fulfilling what had been tasked to them to do, and not taking credit upon themselves.

This is what all of us Christians should do as well, and in how we celebrate the feast of Christmas, let us all share the joy that can be found in our Lord Jesus Christ with all the peoples, especially to all those who are still living in ignorance against Him and those who have yet to hear of the Good News of His salvation. Let us all through our words, actions and deeds be the bearers of the Lord’s salvation to all of His peoples.

May Almighty God bless us all, and may He strengthen our faith always, so that this Christmas will be ever more meaningful to us, and that we may be able to celebrate it with full and complete understanding of its importance, and what it means to us and to our brethren, especially to those who did not yet know Christ our Saviour. May God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 1 : 57-66

When the time came for Elizabeth, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbours and relatives heard that the merciful Lord had done a wonderful thing for her, and they rejoiced with her.

When, on the eighth day, they came to attend the circumcision of the child, they wanted to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.”

They said to her, “But no one in your family has that name!” and they asked the father, by means of signs, for the name he wanted to give him. Zechariah asked for a writing tablet, and wrote on it, “His name is John,” and they were very surprised.

Immediately Zechariah could speak again, and his first words were in praise of God. A holy fear came on all in the neighbourhood, and throughout the hill country of Judea the people talked about these events. All who heard of it pondered in their minds, and wondered, “What will this child be?” For they understood that the hand of the Lord was with him.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 24 : 4-5ab, 8-9, 10 and 14

Teach me Your ways, o Lord; make known to me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and instruct me, for You are my God, my Saviour.

Good and upright, the Lord teaches sinners His way. He teaches the humble of heart and guides them in what is right.

The ways of the Lord are love and faithfulness for those who keep His covenant and precepts. The Lord gives advice to those who revere Him and makes His covenant known to them.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Malachi 3 : 1-4, 23-24

Now I am sending My messenger ahead of Me to clear the way; then suddenly the Lord for Whom you long will enter the sanctuary. The Envoy of the covenant which you so greatly desire already comes, says YHVH of hosts. Who can bear the day of His coming and remain standing when He appears? For He will be like fire in the foundry and like the lye used for bleaching.

He will be as a refiner or a fuller. He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. So YHVH will have priests who will present the offering as it should be. Then YHVH will accept with pleasure the offering of Judah and Jerusalem, as in former days.

I am going to send you the prophet Elijah before the day of YHVH comes, for it will be a great and terrible day. He will reconcile parents with their children, and the children with their parents, so that I may not have to curse this land when I come.

Monday, 19 October 2015 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture message for us is very clear indeed, that all those who place their trust in earthly goods and worldly things shall falter and fail, as they put their faith in perishable things and on things that do not last forever. This is a clear lesson to all of us, so that we may learn to detach ourselves from our commonly excessive attachment to the goods of this world.

Jesus our Lord used the example of the rich man who thought that he had it all, and all the wealth and possessions he had accumulated all the years of his life would bring him pleasure and prosperity in his life. Yet, he did not realise that he is not the true master of his own life. It is the Lord God who is the true Master of all life, and He is the One who has control over all the lives of mankind, including all of us without exception.

That rich man had placed his trust in his great might and power in accordance with the standards and norms of this world, and he thought that he had nothing else to worry about, but he failed to understand that those things he had will not be brought with him over when he comes to his judgment in the presence of God. And he would have nothing to boast of, because nothing that he had accumulated would carry over to the world that is to come.

Instead of all these, our Lord advocated that we all should walk in His path, shedding all of our attachments to the worldly things and desires, and instead we all should adhere closely to the teachings and the truth of our Lord, which is the path of humility, of love and devotion to the Lord. Instead of being overly attached or obsessed with the goods of this world, with money or material goods, we should instead build up the true treasure that we will attain in heaven.

The earthly treasure of money, possessions and wealth shall eventually rot and be destroyed, but not the heavenly treasure that we shall build up if we live faithfully in accordance to the will of God. What is this treasure? It is the treasure of the love of God. While the worldly treasures bring about conflict and suffering, jealousy and hatred, the true treasure of love bring with it consolation and happiness to everyone.

How then, should we build up this heavenly treasure? It is by committing ourselves to actions that are founded upon love, and not the selfish love of men or love for money and possessions, but the selfless and perfect love that our Lord Jesus Himself had shown us, by laying down His life and suffered for the sake of all of us, bearing upon Himself all of our sins and all of their consequences.

We shall build up the true treasures of heaven by showing love in our own actions, caring for those who are lonely, rejected and downtrodden, and by giving hope to all those who are without hope. It is built by our act of giving light of love and hope to all those who have been living in the darkness and the uncertainty of this world, and by showing the path of the Lord to all those who need to be saved.

Let us all also heed the examples of the saints whose life we honour and remember today. Today is the feast of St. John de Brebeuf, St. Isaac Jogues and their companions, the martyr saints of North America, namely French missionaries who spent their lives spreading the Gospel to the pagan and unenlightened people of the New World, especially in what is now Canada and North America.

They went through many hardships and difficult challenges, the difficulty of preaching in place so cold and hostile to life, and in places where the locals and the natives were quite unwilling to open up themselves to listen to the word of God, and the barrier of language differences that made things difficult for these devoted missionaries, who regardless of all these challenges, they continued to persevere through and preached the truth of God to the people.

And indeed, many were converted to the true faith, and many followed on in the hardships and the challenges that await all those who decided to follow the Lord and His path. And they went through times of difficulty, attacked and tortured by those who refused to listen to the truth, and they were all eventually martyred for their faith, dying a painful death defending their faith and conviction to the Lord, and in the process, received the crown of everlasting glory.

And today we also celebrate the feast of St. Paul of the Cross, an Italian priest who was very devoted to the Lord, and he promoted the devotion to the Lord, especially to His most holy Passion, the love which He had shown to all of us, and the suffering which He had willingly endured for the sake of all of us, so that everyone of us may be liberated from the pain of death.

St. Paul of the Cross taught us that by meditating upon the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by focusing on the ultimate sacrifice which He had made out of perfect love for us all, we may be able to understand better what we need to do in life in order to become ever closer to the salvation which our Lord can give to us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all follow their examples and heed what we have heard in the Holy Scriptures today. Let us be better disciples and followers of our Lord, by persevering through difficulties and challenges, through temptations and resisting the pull of our desire, our human greed and wants, which threaten to engulf us into a life of hedonism and materialism opposed to the will of God.

Let us all be humble in all things, and grow ever more devoted to God, and find for ourselves and build up for ourselves not the temporary and illusory treasures of this world, but the treasure of the world that is to come. Let us all show our faith in God through our genuine love for Him and for our fellow men. God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 19 October 2015 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Luke 12 : 13-21

At that time, someone in the crowd spoke to Jesus, “Master, tell my brother to share with me the family inheritance.” He replied, “My friend, who has appointed Me as your Judge or your Attorney?” Then Jesus said to the people, “Be on your guard and avoid every kind of greed, for even though you have many possessions, it is not that which gives you life.”

And Jesus continued with this story, “There was a rich man, and his land had produced a good harvest. He thought, ‘What shall I do, for I am short of room to store my harvest? Alright, I know what I shall do : I will pull down my barns and I will build bigger ones, to store all this grain, which is my wealth. Then I will say to myself : My friend, you have a lot of good things put by for many years. Rest, eat, drink and enjoy yourself.'”

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be taken from you. Tell Me who shall get all you have put aside?’ This is the lot of the one who stores up riches for himself and is not wealthy in the eyes of God.”