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.