Sunday, 5 April 2015 : Easter Vigil of the Lord’s Resurrection, Easter Triduum (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Genesis 22 : 1-18

Some time later God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he answered, “Here I am.” Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I shall point out to you.”

Abraham rose early next morning and saddled his donkey and took with him two of his young men and his son Isaac. He chopped wood for the burnt offering and set out for the place to which God had directed him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance, and he said to the young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to worship and then we will come back to you.”

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. He carried in his hand the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke to Abraham, his father, “Father!” And Abraham replied, “Yes, my son?” Isaac said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” Abraham replied, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the sacrifice.”

They went on, the two of them together, until they came to the place to which God had directed them. When Abraham had built the altar and set the wood on it, he bound his son Isaac and laid him on the wood placed on the altar. He then stretched out his hand to seize the knife and slay his son. But the angel of YHVH called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

And he said, “Here I am.” “Do not lay your hand on the boy; do not harm him, for now I know that you fear God, and you have not held back from Me your only son.”

Abraham looked around and saw behind him a ram caught by its horns in a bush. He offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the place ‘The Lord will provide.’ And the saying has lasted to this day. And the Angel of YHVH called from heaven a second time, “By myself I have sworn, it is YHVH who speaks, because you have done this and not held back your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.”

“Your descendants will take possession of the lands of their enemies. All the nations of the earth will be blessed through your descendants because you have obeyed Me.”

 

Alternative Reading (shorter version)

 

Genesis 22 : 1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18

Some time later God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he answered, “Here I am.” Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I shall point out to you.”

They came to the place to which God had directed them. He then stretched out his hand to seize the knife and slay his son. But the angel of YHVH called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” “Do not lay your hand on the boy; do not harm him, for now I know that you fear God, and you have not held back from Me your only son.”

Abraham looked around and saw behind him a ram caught by its horns in a bush. He offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. And the Angel of YHVH called from heaven a second time, “By myself I have sworn, it is YHVH who speaks, because you have done this and not held back your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.”

“Your descendants will take possession of the lands of their enemies. All the nations of the earth will be blessed through your descendants because you have obeyed Me.”

Monday, 13 October 2014 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Scriptures made a reference to the two sons of Abraham, who was each born of a different mother. Ishmael, the elder son, was born from the union between Abraham and her slave, Hagar, at the insistence of Sarah, his wife, who insisted to Abraham to bear a son with Hagar the slave, who will then legally be known as her own son.

It was common in the past, and even still until today, that a surrogate mother, usually a slave, to produce an heir to a wealthy and influential person, and whose heir will be adopted by the wife of the person, when the wife is unable to bear a child on her own. But in the case of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar the slave, Sarah was taking a shortcut to her problem of not being able to bear a child. God had promised Abraham that He would give him a son through Sarah, for it is nothing impossible for God, even for someone to bear a child at old age.

The younger son, Isaac, born from Abraham and Sarah was the child promised by God, and the blessings which God had given to Abraham in His covenant, was passed on to Isaac and his descendants. Meanwhile, Ishmael, while still blessed by Abraham, he had no part in his inheritance, and both him and his mother Hagar the slave was sent away by Abraham from his house.

The idea here is to separate two occasions in our own lives, the children of God, the children of our father in faith, that is Abraham, the faithful servant of God. The elder son, Ishmael, born of Hagar the slave represented our old lives, the lives of slavery, when we are enslaved by the power of sin and Satan’s works, that we are chained to this world and all of its darkness.

If we think that we are not chained or enslaved, then think about this, how our ancestors were cast out of Eden, the gardens of God filled with all wonderful things and perfections, because they disobeyed the Lord and preferred to follow Satan and their own desires than to listen to God, who had told them and taught them what they need to follow and obey, as well as what they need to avoid.

God did not create us to enslave us, or to make us like His slaves. Rather, we were created in love, for love and for our own good. God who is perfect and complete in everything truly had no need for anyone or anything to satisfy Him, and He did not need anything to be happy or to be joyful, as He is perfect and self-sufficient in everything, in love and joy.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, He created all things, and last and greatest of all, mankind, so that He may share that love He has with all of us. And we were created in perfection, meant to enjoy all the things God had created. He even entrusted all creations on earth to us, that we were meant to be the stewards of all creations, to live our lives in bliss, joy and perfect harmony with God.

But alas, we choose our lot with the evil one, who tempted us, and by accepting his temptations and lies, from our ancestors on, until the coming of the Saviour, all mankind had been enslaved, that is enslaved and chained by sin, the sins of our actions which corrupted us and brought us away from the promise of eternal life and happiness which God freely gave us and intended for us.

And that brought us under the slavery of our sins, that we are no longer free but bound under the consequences of sin, which ultimately is death. Death is the punishment and consequence of disobedience, and that is why mankind suffered from death, which was once without hope, and we feared death. But all was not lost, for God gave His help to us all, through Jesus Christ His Son, who is our Lord and Saviour.

That through Christ, we may be made anew, and transformed from the child of the first generation, represented by Ishmael, the son of the slave woman, to be like the other child, that is Isaac, the son promised by God to Abraham, the son of the free woman, and hence is free. This represents how we mankind had been made free, and through the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ, this was made true by God.

But this freedom is given only to those who want to believe in Christ, and not to those who continue to stubbornly refuse His offers of freedom. Yes, there are many indeed today who continues to refuse to follow the Lord and listen to Him, and they prefer to continue to live under the slavery of sin, and keep their chains of sin, which continue to chain them to death and destruction.

This was exactly the same kind of attitude which Jesus encountered as He taught the people, who were stubborn and persistent in their rebelliousness. They doubted Jesus, even after seeing what He had done, and asking for even more signs and miracles. They were not able to look beyond the veil of their doubt and unfaithfulness, and instead, they languished in sin, refusing to see the light until the day when the judgment comes upon them.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as today we also celebrate the anniversary of the last of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, let us all look at the examples of the holy saints and martyrs, and chief of all, that of our Lady of Fatima, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And let us look at the examples of Abraham our father in faith, and finally the examples and the actions of our Lord Jesus Himself.

All of them followed the Lord, obeyed the Lord and listened to His will, as contrasted to Adam and Eve, our ancestors, and the people whom Jesus confronted in the Gospel today. We have a choice, brothers and sisters in Christ. We can choose to follow the Lord and obey all of His commands and will, and walk righteously in His path, or to choose to instead listen to Satan and his lies, and obey our own whim and our own desires. It is up to us to make a difference in our own lives.

Thus, do we all want to choose life or death? Do we all want to be free from sin and its slavery, or do we want to remain bound to sin and be enslaved? Thus, let us all take conscious actions, to show that we want to be indeed free from all forms of the bondage of sin, and rebuke Satan who had enslaved us with them. Let us say courageously to him, that we do not want to have any more part in this slavery of our body and soul, but rather that we may be free in the Lord.

May Almighty God be with us, guide us and bring us into the freedom from our slavery, the slavery of our body and soul to sin, so that we may truly be righteous and just, and be found worthy of His grace and inheritance. God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 13 October 2014 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Galatians 4 : 22-24, 26-27, 31 – Galatians 5 : 1

It says that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman, the other by the free woman, his wife. The son of the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but the son of the free woman was born in fulfillment of God’s promise.

Here we have an allegory and the figures of two covenants. The first is the one from Mount Sinai, represented through Hagar : her children have slavery for their lot. But the Jerusalem above, who is our mother, is free. And Scripture says of her : ‘Rejoice, barren woman without children, break forth in shouts of joy, you who do not know the pains of childbirth, for many shall be the children of the forsaken mother, more than of the married woman.’

Brethren, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman. Christ freed us to make us really free. So remain firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

Saturday, 19 April 2014 : Easter Vigil of the Lord’s Resurrection, Easter Triduum (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Genesis 22 : 1-18

Some time later God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he answered, “Here I am.” Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I shall point out to you.”

Abraham rose early next morning and saddled his donkey and took with him two of his young men and his son Isaac. He chopped wood for the burnt offering and set out for the place to which God had directed him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance, and he said to the young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to worship and then we will come back to you.”

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. He carried in his hand the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke to Abraham, his father, “Father!” And Abraham replied, “Yes, my son?” Isaac said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” Abraham replied, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the sacrifice.”

They went on, the two of them together, until they came to the place to which God had directed them. When Abraham had built the altar and set the wood on it, he bound his son Isaac and laid him on the wood placed on the altar. He then stretched out his hand to seize the knife and slay his son. But the angel of YHVH called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

And he said, “Here I am.” “Do not lay your hand on the boy; do not harm him, for now I know that you fear God, and you have not held back from Me your only son.”

Abraham looked around and saw behind him a ram caught by its horns in a bush. He offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the place ‘The Lord will provide.’ And the saying has lasted to this day. And the Angel of YHVH called from heaven a second time, “By myself I have sworn, it is YHVH who speaks, because you have done this and not held back your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.”

“Your descendants will take possession of the lands of their enemies. All the nations of the earth will be blessed through your descendants because you have obeyed Me.”

 

Alternative Reading (shorter version)

 

Genesis 22 : 1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18

Some time later God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he answered, “Here I am.” Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I shall point out to you.”

They came to the place to which God had directed them. He then stretched out his hand to seize the knife and slay his son. But the angel of YHVH called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” “Do not lay your hand on the boy; do not harm him, for now I know that you fear God, and you have not held back from Me your only son.”

Abraham looked around and saw behind him a ram caught by its horns in a bush. He offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. And the Angel of YHVH called from heaven a second time, “By myself I have sworn, it is YHVH who speaks, because you have done this and not held back your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.”

“Your descendants will take possession of the lands of their enemies. All the nations of the earth will be blessed through your descendants because you have obeyed Me.”

Sunday, 21 July 2013 : 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Genesis 18 : 1-10a

YHVH appeared to Abraham near the oak of Mamre. Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent, in the heat of the day, when he looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them. He bowed to the ground and said, “My Lord, if I have found favour in Your sight, do not pass You servant by. Let a little water be brought. Wash Your feet and then rest under the trees.”

“I shall fetch some bread so that You can be refreshed and continue on Your way, since You have come to Your servant.” They then said, “Do as you say.” Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said to her, “Quick, take three measures of flour, knead it and make cakes.”

Abraham then ran to the herd, took a fine, tender calf, gave it to the servant who hurried to prepare it. He took butter and milk and together with the calf he had prepared, laid it all before them. And while he remained standing, they ate. They then asked, “Where is Sarah, your wife?” Abraham answered, “She is in the tent.” And the Visitor said, “At this same time next year I will return and Sarah by then will have a son.”

Thursday, 4 July 2013 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Portugal (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters, the Lord loves us, He loves all of us without exception, and He wants us to be reunited with Him, but He also wants us to be free from the sins and evil that separate us from Him. That was why He sent us Jesus, His Son, that we may have hope of salvation, through His authority, for He, as the Son of God, one with the Father, has authority over all the creation, and over sin. That was why He was able to forgive those whom He deemed worthy, from their sins, such as the paralytic. The Lord loves us all, and He showed mercy to those who suffer.

Obedience to God and His will is important, because while He gave us free will in order to choose what we want to do for our lives, and He did also give us plenty of freedom in that regard. He gave us plenty of time and opportunities in order to live according to His commandments and His Law, just as Abraham had done his entire life.

Abraham did not withhold from the Lord even his only son, and this son is not just any son, but the very son that the Lord had promised him for a long time, and who had been made the heir of Abraham, as the son of Abraham and Sarah, his wife. Sarah gave birth to Isaac in her old age, in the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. Yet, then that child was requested by the Lord from Abraham, to be a burnt offering for Him.

One may only guess the emotions running within Abraham when he heard of the Lord’s request for Isaac to be a burnt offering. After all the promise and the difficulties that came before Isaac was finally born into the world, this young one was to be burned as a sacrifice for the Lord, and therefore, the entire hope and excitement over Isaac as Abraham’s heir would have been a waste. Certainly, such thoughts must have resonated within Abraham’s mind. Yet, he remained entirely faithful in God and in His plans, and His will, and he gave a full consent to God’s request, bringing Isaac to be sacrificed on the mountains of Moriah.

It is not easy to give up one’s most beloved one, especially to be killed as a sacrifice. But Abraham did it, and he proved his faith to the Lord and his obedience through that action, showing that Abraham valued nothing more than the Lord his God, and put even his own son, only son into risk for the sake of the Lord. But wait, even though we may think that Abraham had gone all the way in giving up his precious one for the Lord, there is indeed another, even far greater case and example of self-sacrifice that had happened in this world.

What is that? Yes, none other than the Lord Himself. He gave us His own Son, Jesus Christ, in sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice for all of our sins. Through His death came our redemption, and through His life, we are born again in a new life in God. He gave Himself as the ultimate offering for our sins, as His Blood, the Blood of the purest Lamb of all, the Lamb of God, is the only thing worthy for all the monstrosity of our sins, as great is our sins from our forefathers to us, and from us to our children.

Christ Himself taught that there is no greater love than those who gave their lives for their friends, and in giving up His own life, He showed the perfect nature of His love for all. He died for all without exception, and offered everybody His salvation, if only they would repent and believe in Him as their Lord and Saviour. Abraham too showed his great love through his offering of his only son, the promised son, Isaac, to the Lord. Brothers and sisters, we must always love God, and our brothers and sisters, most importantly those who are in great need for our care and our love.

Today, brethren, we also commemorate the memorial and feast of St. Elizabeth of Portugal. St. Elizabeth of Portugal was Queen consort of Portugal, and had been very devout in her devotion to the Lord and to the cause of the faith even before she was Queen, and when she became Queen, she became patron of numerous activities and organisations through which she did much effort to bring love and service to others, particularly those in need, and also preach the Gospel of Christ to those who were still in darkness.

St. Elizabeth of Portugal joined the religious life after she was widowed, and even though she was dowager queen, she did not hesitate to involve herself extensively in numerous acts of charity for the poor and sick, whom she had a special devotion to in her works. She is also a well-known peacemaker, having been a great diplomat and endowed with great intellect and charm. She brokered many peace agreements between warring parties, and even her assistance was asked after she had joined religious life, and even then, she showed her skills in ensuring peace between parties in conflict.

St. Elizabeth of Portugal is an example to all of us, brothers and sisters, that all of us should give love and life through our deeds and actions daily. We must show love in all the things that we do without exception, bringing love to those who need it, and care to those who are poor and suffering. We must also be peacemakers, to bring peace between brothers and sisters who are in conflict, that hate will never take hold in this world, and instead, in its place, love would occupy the hearts of men, that we will once again remember the love God had once given us, through the sacrifice of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, His expression of His ultimate and undying love for all of us.

May the Lord strengthen us and empower us with His love, that we will be always courageous and strong, in our increasingly darkened world, that we will become beacons of light, beacons of hope, and beacons of love. May God bless us at all times and be with us always. Amen.

Thursday, 4 July 2013 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Portugal (First Reading)

Genesis 22 : 1-19

Some time later God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he answered, “Here I am.” Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I shall point out to you.”

Abraham rose early next morning and saddled his donkey and took with him two of his young men and his son Isaac. He chopped wood for the burnt offering and set out for the place to which God had directed him. On the third day, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance, and he said to the young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to worship and then we will come back to you.”0

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. He carried in his hand the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke to Abraham, his father, “Father!” And Abraham replied, “Yes, my son?” Isaac said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” Abraham replied, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the sacrifice.”

They went on, the two of them together, until they came to the place to which God had directed them. When Abraham had built the altar and set the wood on it, he bound his son Isaac and laid him on the wood placed on the altar. He then stretched out his hand to seize the knife and slay his son. But the angel of YHVH called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

And he said, “Here I am.” “Do not lay your hand on the boy; do not harm him, for now I know that you fear God, and you have not held back from Me your only son.”

Abraham looked around and saw behind him a ram caught by its horns in a bush. He offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the place, ‘The Lord will provide.’ And the saying has lasted to this day.

And the angel of YHVH called from heaven a second time, “By myself I have sworn, it is YHVH who speaks, because you have done this and not held back your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the lands of their enemies. All the nations of the earth will be blessed through your descendants because you have obeyed Me.”

So Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba and it was there that Abraham stayed.