Sunday, 21 December 2014 : Fourth Sunday of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple or Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the fourth and therefore the last Sunday of Advent in our liturgical year. Christmas is coming soon and this week is the time traditionally prescribed by the Church as the time for the final preparation for Christmas. This Sunday we continue to observe and reflect on the major aspects of Christmas, that is Love. We have previously reflected on Hope, on Peace, and finally on Joy at the Gaudete Sunday last week.

Love is the central nature of Christmas and all that we celebrate. Indeed, love is the centre of everything, of why we still live and breathe comfortably now in this world. God loves us all, for we were created special, with the very image of our God imprinted on us, and we have been given the greatest gift of all. And what is this gift? It is the Gift of all gifts, surpassing all other gifts, that is Christ our Lord Himself, the Gift of God to all mankind.

As we have often talked about and discussed throughout this Advent season, this season is a time for ardent prayer and genuine preparation, a time for us to prepare for the ‘Adventus’ or the coming of the Lord. And after going through four Sundays in which we discern the true meaning of Christmas, we should all be ready and prepared to celebrate this Christmas meaningfully.

Otherwise, if we fail to understand the true meaning of Christmas, then we will not benefit from the richness of God’s grace which He had given to us, which will benefit us most if we can appreciate what Christmas truly is. Christmas is not just about the glorious and bountiful food, not just about the festivities and the parties, and not just about the decorations and shopping that we often do to prepare for Christmas.

Christmas is truly about love, the love of God for mankind. Surely we know that the Gospel has clearly spoken about God who loves us all so much, that He gave us His only Son, so that all those who believe in Him, the Son, will not perish but gain eternal life (John 3:16). This is the essence of Christmas, the coming of the Son into the world, so that a new Hope arises for the nations and for all the peoples.

So the aspect of love that we reflect on this Sunday, reflects this Love that God had shown us, the true meaning of Christmas that I have often emphasized. Without the love of God, there can be no Christmas, and there can be no hope for us. There can no true peace in us, if we do not embrace the peace brought to us by God’s Love in Christ. There can also be no joy in us that lasts, if we do not share in the joy of God’s Love.

What is love, brothers and sisters in Christ? Is love shown by expensive gifts or romantic activities, and all the things taught and shown to us by the world? Is it like what are being advertised to us in many things, about love? No, it is not that kind of love, for that kind of love is often selfish, love that is bound to possessions and material goods, love that is conditional and once spent, then no love is left. Sadly, this is also the reason why there are so much sorrow in the world, of broken families, of abuses in the family, of infighting and jealousy, and many others.

Love, and indeed real love, is not about all these, but is the kind of love which Love Himself, Christ, had shown us. For God is Love, and He had shown us what love really is. His love is true love, genuine and pure, unconditional and gentle. His love does not have any prerequisite, nor does He demand us to give Him something for the love He had shown us. Indeed, He loved us even when we are still sinners, and even laid down His life for us.

St. Paul mentioned in his letter to the Romans, that someone may want to give their life for the just and righteous ones, but very unlikely to do so, for those who are wicked and evil. But Jesus suffered for us, bearing all of our sins, and died for us, laying down His life, even when we are still sinners and wicked (Romans 5:8). And as Jesus had said that the greatest kind of love is for someone to lay down his life for a friend (John 15:13), then we can see indeed how much greater the love God had for us when He chose to lay down His life for us, sinners and evildoers.

God does detest our sins greatly. Sin has no place in His presence, as sin is a taint and corruption, and for He who is perfectly good and pure, sin is completely disgusting. And yet, His love is even greater than His hatred for our sins. He loves us so much that He was willing to endure all those sufferings in order to rescue us from our predicament of sin.

This is the kind of love we should really have with us, and the love we should cherish. For it is through the love of God that we can enjoy a new hope, true peace and real joy which the world and others cannot provide. His love for us is unconditional, and by His coming into the world, that we celebrate in Christmas, He offered Himself, His love and mercy for all of us, so that we may be saved.

But at the same time, we have to be vigilant and be careful, for this world certainly has done much to prevent the love of God from reaching us, as Satan is the Lord of this world, and he has all in his possessions and within his means to tempt us and lead us away from the salvation and love which God freely offers us all. And today, we celebrate the feast of a great and faithful servant of God, who is a devout and courageous defender of the Faith in God.

St. Peter Canisius was a Dutch Jesuit, who lived during the time of the Protestant ‘reformation’, when many of the faithful and the members of the Church were misguided and misled by those who have been corrupted by the lies and the confusion of the evil one. They left the Church and the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ as faithfully kept by the Church and chose to follow their own human desires, greed, selfishness, and other evils in them.

St. Peter Canisius joined the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuit order, which is the spearhead of the Church’s effort at Counter-Reformation, which main goal is to counter the heresy of Protestantism and bring as many souls as possible back to salvation that exists only in the Church of God. He led the effort of Counter-Reformation in what is now Germany, where the effects of the Protestant heresy is at its worst. He preached the true faith, and it was told that his preaching was so effective that hundreds and more returned to the true Faith.

He preached and taught in many places, and he persuaded many to return to the Faith not by coercion or force, but by clear reason and clear understanding of the Faith, and through that clarity in the teaching of the Faith, his words of truth, the truth of God rang deep into the depths of the hearts of many, who were convinced to abandon their heresy and return to the Holy Mother Church.

St. Peter Canisius was very particular in the matter of the education of the Faith to the people, and his most well-known legacy is the three books of Catechism he had written, which are the clear source of the teachings of the Faith, used in many generations and saved countless souls from sins and heresies. That is why his name today is also identical with Catholic education and several Jesuit education institutes adopted his name after he was made saint of the Holy Church.

He was also credited for his great devotion to Mary, and he taught that the best way to the Lord is through His mother Mary, and he was the one who added the response in the Ave Maria or Hail Mary prayer, “Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners.” This clearly showed the importance of Mary in the lives of the faithful, for through her intercessions and prayers for us, God our Lord His Son, is most likely to hear our pleas and petitions, and mercy shall be shown us.

Why did St. Peter Canisius do all of these, brothers and sisters in Christ? Why did he go forth and preach to the heretics and those who have been lost to the darkness of the world? That is because of none other than God’s love for us, and His desire that we be found and be gathered again, that we will be lost sheep no more but belonging once more to the one flock of Christ, that is the Church.

The love of God is such, that He, although despising our sins and repelled by our wickedness, endure all of them, and even endure all forms of humiliation and rejection, none less by His own people, the ones whom He was sent to save! And yet, He persevered, out of that eternal and infinite love which He has in Him, for He is Love, and just as He wanted to share that love with us when He created us, thus, He wanted us to be loved by Him even when we have fallen into sin.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, even as we prepare for the Christmas celebrations which will be here in less than a week’s time, and even as we prepare to rejoice together with the whole world and the whole Universal Church at the celebration of the Birth of our Lord Jesus, let us never forget that this event is there in the first place, because of God and His Love for us, that is made real and concrete through His Son Jesus, who performed the act of ultimate love for us, to die for us for our sins on the cross at Calvary.

This Christmas, shall we then ponder at the love God has for us, that He was willing to enter into our world, and indeed into our lives and dwell within us? Let us never forget that Christ is at the heart of Christmas, and at the very heart of that celebration and joy is the Love of God, the eternal and undying love Christ had shown us through the cross, the very purpose of His coming into this world, and thus to liberate us from the chains of sin.

Sin no more, repent, change our ways and be wholeheartedly devoted to God from now on, that this Christmas and the next ones will be decidedly different from the past ones, that this time, we truly understand and fully embrace the love of Christ, the true meaning of Christmas. God bless us all and may St. Peter Canisius intercede for us always with the Blessed Mother of our Lord, Mary our mother. Amen.


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Epistle (Usus Antiquior) :


Gospel (Usus Antiquior) :

Sunday, 21 December 2014 : Fourth Sunday of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple or Violet

Luke 1 : 26-38

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a young virgin, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

The angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a Son, and you shall call Him Jesus.”

“He will be great, and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the kingdom of David, His ancestor; He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and His reign shall have no end.”

Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the Holy Child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Even your relative Elizabeth is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child; and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible.”

Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.” And the angel left her.


Homily and Reflection :

Sunday, 21 December 2014 : Fourth Sunday of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple or Violet

Romans 16 : 25-27

Glory be to God! He is able to give you strength, according to the Good News I proclaim, announcing Christ Jesus. Now is revealed the mysterious plan kept hidden for long ages in the past.

By the will of the eternal God it is brought to light, through the prophetic books, and all nations shall believe the faith proclaimed to them. Glory to God, who alone is wise, through Christ Jesus, forever! Amen.


Homily and Reflection :

Sunday, 21 December 2014 : Fourth Sunday of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple or Violet

Psalm 88 : 2-3, 4-5, 27 and 29

I will sing forever, o Lord, of Your love and proclaim Your faithfulness from age to age. I will declare how steadfast is Your love, how firm Your faithfulness.

You said, “I have made a covenant with David, My chosen one; I have made a pledge to My servant. I establish His descendants forever; I build His throne for all generations.”

He will call on me, ‘You are my Father, my God, my Rock, my Saviour.’ I will keep My covenant firm forever, and My love for him will endure.


Homily and Reflection :

Sunday, 21 December 2014 : Fourth Sunday of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple or Violet

2 Samuel 7 : 1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16

When the king had settled in his palace and YHVH had rid him of all his surrounding enemies, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Look, I live in a house of cedar but the Ark of God is housed in a tent.” Nathan replied, “Do as it seems fit to you for YHVH is with you.”

But that very night, YHVH’s word came to Nathan, “Go and tell My servant David, this is what YHVH says : Are you able to build a house for Me to live in? I took you from the pasture, from tending the sheep, to make you commander of My people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, cutting down all your enemies before you.”

“Now I will make your name great as the name of the great ones on earth. I will provide a place for My people Israel and plant them that they may live there in peace. They shall no longer be harassed, nor shall wicked men oppress them as before. From the time when I appointed judges over My people Israel it is only to you that I have given rest from all your enemies. YHVH also tells you that He will build you a house.”

“When the time comes for you to rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your son after you, the one born of you and I will make his reign secure. I will be a Father to him and he shall be My son. Your house and your reign shall last forever before Me, and your throne shall be forever firm.”


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Wednesday, 3 December 2014 : Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Priest and Patron of Missions (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of a truly great and renowned saint, of whom many of our brethren around the world, particularly in Asia and in the Pacific region owed their faith to in the beginning, when the Church and the Faith first reached those regions of the world and was able to anchor themselves until today as flourishing communities of the faithful as we witness today.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Francis Xavier, or Franciscus Xaverius, a Spanish Jesuit priest and great missionary, whose missionary works caused a great flowering of the cause of the Faith in the East Indies, in countries now encompassing India, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Macau, Hong Kong, China, and also Japan. It is also likely that his works had also had even wider contributions to the whole Universal Church both in the mission areas and at home, in the heart of Christendom.

For St. Francis Xavier lived during a very difficult time for the Faith and the Church of God. This is because at that time, the very heart of Christendom were besieged both inside and outside by its enemies, both heretics, heathens, pagans and other enemies of God and His Church alike. The Islamic Ottoman Turks were on the rise and they had conquered many nations, and after vanquishing and subjugating Christian nations one after another, it seemed that they were poised to strike at the remaining nations faithful to the Lord.

Meanwhile, the so-called false Protestant ‘reformation’ was on the rage in most of Europe at the time, with many people, rulers and even clergy alike were swayed by the lies of the devil and by the greed of men, in following their own hearts’ desire and following false doctrines, forsaking the truth and the wholeness of the teachings of Christ as espoused and kept by the Church of God. Princes and peoples alike rebelled and broke free from the Church of God, destroying the unity of the Church.

Wars were fought in many places for the sake of the souls of the faithful. Many were lost to the Lord, but many also were called back to the Faith and repented their sins and rebellions. But at a time when external threats to the Faith were mounting as mentioned earlier, the Church and the faithful were not in good position to deal with all of them at once.

This is not to mention that within the Church itself there were many corruption and wickedness, with simony and even sexual impropriety all over the places. Buying of positions and honours were abound, nepotism and collusion were commonplace. And these further caused troubles to the already beleaguered Faith, Church and the faithful of God. This was why, there were a new movement then within the Church aiming for a great reform and purification of the Faith, which led to the great Council of Trent and Counter-Reformation, to reclaim the souls of many from heresy.

The Society of Jesus founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola, together with many others of his comrades, St. Peter Canisius and including St. Francis Xavier, the Patron Saint of Missions whose feast we are celebrating today, they were pivotal in the efforts of Counter-Reformation, to reclaim for the Lord His people who have been lost to the darkness of the world and all those who had been lost to heresy of men.

Many of these brave missionaries and servants of God preached throughout Christendom calling them to repent from their sins and return to the Faith in the Holy Mother Church. While many resisted and persecuted the missionaries, there were also many who were moved by the preachings and they returned to the one and true Faith. But at the same time, there were challenges and opportunities beyond what had been mentioned here.

For at that time, advances in technology allowed the people of God for the very first time, to explore the entirety of the world. New worlds and places were discovered and this represented a great opportunity for the evangelisation of the Faith as it could not have been done before. St. Francis Xavier was sent as part of the evangelisation effort, to spearhead the Faith’s effort to bring the Good News to many of those who have yet to hear it before, bringing the Light to a people still living in darkness.

All these are linked to the readings of this day we heard from the Holy Scriptures, all of which talked about one thing, that is evangelisation and the spreading of the Good News to all of the world. That was the last and ongoing mission given by the Lord Jesus to all of His Apostles and disciples after His resurrection and just before He ascended to heaven, as we heard in the Gospel today.

Jesus told His disciples to bring forth the Good News and preach it to the entire world, to the whole mankind, so that all peoples may hear and witness the truth of God’s love and salvation, and thus be stirred from their slumber, to be awakened to walk and seek the Lord’s saving grace. This is a mission which He charged the Church with, and thus the mission which the Lord entrusted to all of us His faithful ones.

And the actions of the Jesuits in the traditional home of Christendom in Europe, wrecked by the Protestant ‘reformation’ and heresy, represented also a kind of evangelisation and spreading the Good News. They worked hard to dispel the lies of the devil and the falsehoods spread by the wicked agents of the evil one, and instead preaching and teaching the truth of Christ which the Church had kept faithfully since the very beginning.

What St. Francis Xavier and his fellow missionaries had done, then also expand the works of evangelisation even further, carrying out the mission of our Lord Jesus as He had entrusted to His disciples. Yes, which is to spread the Good News to all the nations and to baptise many nations and peoples in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, which was exactly what St. Francis Xavier had laboured hard for.

St. Francis Xavier travelled from countries to countries and from places to places, spreading the Faith wherever he went. He baptised many of the local communities and populace whom he encountered along his missionary journeys, and gained for the Lord many more souls he had helped brought to salvation. He preached the Lord’s Good News wherever he went, and he also helped to build up the Church in various places in Asia, at Goa in India, Malacca in the Malay Archipelago, Macau in China, and Nagasaki in Japan.

He faced and encountered many difficulties and challenges along the way, and yet he persevered. He performed many miracles and wonders throughout his missionary journeys, and he also even calmed a terrible storm which threatened to sink his boat while he was sailing to a place he was to preach the Good News at. He healed many of the sick and cast out demons.

Yes, brethren, was this not what our Lord Jesus had told His disciples too in the Gospel today? Those whom He had sent to preach His Good News and those who had devoted themselves and their lives in the service of God and His Gospel, He will not leave alone, but He will grant them His blessings and power to carry out their mission successfully.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, on this holy occasion of the feast of St. Francis Xavier, the Patron Saint of Missions, let us all learn from what I have shared with you, of the courage of the missionaries and the servants of God in preaching the Good News of the Gospel to the nations, not only to those who had erred in their ways and walked away from the truth, but also to those who have not yet heard a single word of the Good News of Christ.

But it does not mean that their works ended just there, brothers and sisters in Christ. The mission which Jesus entrusted His disciples continues even today, and we are all, brothers and sisters in Christ, all the faithful ones of God are also tasked and entrusted with the same mission, to preach and spread the Good News of God’s salvation to all the nations and to all the peoples.

Therefore, let us all pray to the Lord, that in our hearts, the courage and desire we should have to preach His words and truth may be awakened and strengthened in us, so that we may also live faithfully and truly live out our faith with real action and real devotion, by loving one another as our Lord had loved us, and show love to all those around us who need them. Let us all follow and walk in the footsteps of St. Francis Xavier, the Patron Saint of missions! God bless us all. Amen.


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Wednesday, 15 October 2014 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the distinction between the ones who lived in the flesh and in the Spirit, that is those who listen to the whim of their human weaknesses, namely pride, anger, jealousy, desire, arrogance, greed, ignorance, wrath, lust, dishonesty and many others, rather than to walk in the way which the Lord had designed for us.

The Lord had revealed His laws through Moses, with all the rules and regulations designed to help the people to control themselves and prevent themselves from succumbing to the desires and temptations of the flesh and the pleasures of the world, with which Satan constantly and daily assault us all mankind, in order to drag us into damnation together with him for eternity.

The Law of God, as exemplified by the Ten Commandments are a set of guides and rules to help the people of God as focus to lead them in life, just like a lighthouse with its light guides ships away from the shores and from dangerous and sharp rocks, so that they would not flounder and be wrecked on the reefs. Thus the purpose of the Law of God was not to punish, but instead to love the people of God, that is by showing how God loves them through such care that He gave them such guidance that they may not hurt themselves by doing something foolish in life.

Yet, many of the people refused to listen to and obey the laws, despite constant and repeated reminders by the Lord. They continued to persist in their rebelliousness, and they walked with pride, knowingly following the ways of Satan the deceiver, who lavished them with lies and temptations of the flesh. Like the tales of old, again using the example of the ships and the sailors who guide them through rough waters, Satan and his agents were like the legendary sirens who were told to be enchanters who lulled unaware sailors and ships with their songs, that they ended up wrecked on reefs and rocks and be lost.

The lull, the joy and the pleasures of Satan are dangerous, brothers and sisters in Christ, be it then, and be it now. He is always about and around us, looking for opportunities where we are at our most vulnerable. And if we are not careful, we may indeed be trapped by the devices of Satan and fall into damnation. Thus we have to be ever vigilant and be ready to guard ourselves against such vicious attacks.

And how do we best do this? This is by embracing the teachings of Christ and asking the Holy Spirit to be our guide, by entrusting ourselves fully to His love and shunning all things of the devil. That means we have to cast away all acts of fornication and corruption of our flesh, heart and soul, and begin to walk righteously in the sight of God. We have to practice our faith and commit fully to the truth and love of God, showing the faith we have in our words, actions and deeds.

And today, we celebrate the feast of a great woman and saint, whose life can be a model for us all, in living our faith. She is St. Teresa of Jesus, also known famously as St. Teresa of Avila, after the name of the city where she came from. St. Teresa of Jesus was recently made a Doctor of the Church, for her great and numerous works in faith, through which her writings and works became priceless inspiration source for many of the faithful.

St. Teresa of Jesus herself was born in Spain during the time of the early modern era Europe, at the time when the Church was about to be rocked greatly by the so-called Protestant ‘reformation’, where many of the faithful were led away by the lies and falsehoods of the agents of Satan, who infiltrated many hearts of the faithful and turned them against the efforts of the Lord through His Church.

Satan appealed to the people of God, to make themselves free from the Law of God through the Church, which had been seen by many as corrupted. Indeed, the Church leadership and hierarchy at the time had been seen as debauched and corrupt, much like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law at the time of Jesus. They only fulfilled the Law on the superficial level, but in their hearts, they were corrupt and they served only their own desires.

But many people took matter to their own hands, and rather than listening to the words of the Holy Spirit, they followed the lies of Satan that caused even greater injury to the Church and to the faithful. They refused to help the Church and the faithful to get free from the entanglements of Satan, and instead they themselves became entangled even further.

This was where St. Teresa of Jesus entered the scene. Joining the Carmelites at a young age, St. Teresa of Jesus had always been noted for her great piety and devotion to the Lord, who made herself to belong completely to Christ our Lord. She wrote many books and writings which became model for many who came after her in the subsequent centuries, and she also received many visions about the Lord, and how we mankind ought to live our faith life. She eventually also became a leading figure of the Counter-Reformation efforts to return many souls to the Lord.

She suffered from many illnesses and diseases throughout her life as a religious sister, but she did not complain or become bitter because of that. Instead, she saw it as a suffering being suffered for the sake of the Lord. She also promoted the need for mankind to put themselves completely in trust to God, and to surrender themselves and subject themselves to the love of God.

This and many of her other teachings in her writings help mankind to find a clear path towards the Lord, avoiding all the efforts of the devil who constantly tried to turn mankind away from the path towards salvation and into damnation with him. Like the clear and bright light of the lighthouse, what St. Teresa of Jesus had written, had said and had done in her life, enduring suffering after suffering in joy with the Lord, and in her complete and undying trust in God, she showed us all, who still wander in the darkness of this world, how to reach our target and destination, that is the Lord our God.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us today ask for the intercession of St. Teresa of Jesus and of other holy saints of God, that they may help intercede for our sake, and pray for us before the Lord, that we may follow their leads and examples, to avoid falling into the traps and devices of Satan and that we may also reject firmly all forms of fornications of the flesh, and begin to live according to the Spirit. May Almighty God guide us on our way, and lead us to Himself, that we may find our way to resist Satan and remaining true to our faith in God. God bless us all. Amen.