Friday, 13 October 2017 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 11 : 15-26

At that time, some of the people said, “Jesus drives out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the chief of the demons.” Others wanted to put Him to the test, by asking Him for a heavenly sign.

But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them, “Every nation divided by civil war is on the road to ruin, and will fall. If Satan also is divided, his empire is coming to an end. How can you say that I drive out demons by calling upon Beelzebul? If I drive them out by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons drive out demons? They will be your judges, then.”

“But if I drive out demons by the finger of God; would not this mean that the kingdom of God has come upon you? As long as a man, strong and well armed, guards his house, his goods are safe. But when a stronger man attacks and overcomes him, the challenger takes away all the weapons he relied on, and disposes of his spoils.”

“Whoever is not with Me is against Me, and whoever does not gather with Me, scatters. When the evil spirit goes out of a person, it wanders through dry lands, looking for a resting place; and finding none, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds the house swept and everything in order. Then it goes to fetch seven other spirits, even worse than itself. They move in and settle there, so that the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 26 March 2016 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Seventh Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 36 : 16-17a, 18-28

The word of YHVH came to me in these terms, “Son of man, when Israel occupied her own land and defiled it by her way of life and her actions. I poured out My fury on them because of the blood they shed in the land and because they defiled it with their filthy idols.”

“Then I scattered them among the nations  and dispersed them in other lands. I judged them according to their conduct and their actions. But when they were brought to other nations, My Holy Name was profane because others said of them : ‘The people of YHVH had to be exiled from His land!'”

“Then I was concerned for My Holy Name, profaned by Israel among the nations where she had been dispersed. Now you shall say to the people of Israel : ‘It is not for your sake that I am about to act, but because of My Holy Name that you have profaned in the places where you have gone.'”

“‘I will make known the holiness of My great Name, profaned among the nations because of you, and they will know that I am YHVH when I show them My holiness among you. For I will gather you from all the nations and bring you back to your own land.'”

“‘Then I shall pour pure water over you and you shall be made clean – cleansed from the defilement of all your idols. I shall give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I shall remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.'”

“‘I shall put  My spirit within you and move you to follow My decrees and keep My laws. You will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you shall be My people and I will be Your God.'”

Monday, 9 November 2015 : Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, Archbasilica of St. John Lateran (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 2 : 13-22

At that time, as the Passover of the Jews was at hand, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the Temple court He found merchants selling oxen, sheep and doves, and money changers seated at their tables.

Making a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the Temple court, together with the oxen and sheep. He knocked over the tables of the money changers, scattering the coins, and ordered the people selling doves, “Take all this away, and stop turning My Father’s House into a marketplace!”

His disciples recalled the words of Scripture : ‘Zeal for Your House devours Me like fire.’ The Jews then questioned Jesus, “Where are the miraculous signs which give You the right to do this?” And Jesus said, “Destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up.”

The Jews then replied, “The building of this Temple has already taken forty-six years, and will You raise it up in three days?” Actually, Jesus was referring to the Temple of His Body. Only when He had risen from the dead did His disciples remember these words, then they believed both the Scriptures and the words Jesus had spoken.”

Sunday, 30 August 2015 : Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 7 : 1-8, 14-15, 21-23

At that time, one day the Pharisees gathered around Jesus, and with them there were some teachers of the Law who had just come from Jerusalem. They noticed that some of His disciples were eating their meal with unclean hands, that is, without washing them.

Now the Pharisees, and in fact all the Jews, never eat without washing their hands, for they follow the tradition received from their ancestors. Nor do they eat anything, when they come from the market, without first washing themselves. And there are many other traditions they observe; for example, the ritual washing of cups, pots and plates.

So the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders, but eat with unclean hands?” Jesus answered, “You shallow people! How well Isaiah prophesied of you when he wrote : ‘This people honours Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. The worship they offer Me is worthless, for what they teach are only human rules.’ You even put aside the commandment of God to hold fast to human tradition.”

Jesus then called the people to Him again and said to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and try to understand. Nothing that enters a person from the outside can make that person unclean. It is what comes from within that makes a person unclean. For evil designs come out of the heart : theft, murder, adultery, jealousy, greed, maliciousness, deceit, indecency, slander, pride and folly. All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.”

Sunday, 30 August 2015 : Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

James 1 : 17-18, 21b-22, 27

Every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of Light, in whom there is no change or shadow of a change. By His own will He gave us life through the Word of Truth, that we might be a kind of offering to Him among His creatures.

Welcome the Word that has been planted in you and has the power to save you. Be doers of the Word and not just hearers, lest you deceive yourselves. In the sight of God, our Father, pure and blameless religion lies in helping the orphans and widows in their need and keeping oneself from the world’s corruption.

Sunday, 15 February 2015 : Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Quinquagesima Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we approach ever closer to the beginning of the Lenten season which will begin on this coming, the Ash Wednesday, today we celebrate the Quinquagesima Sunday, or the Seventh Sunday before Easter, as a reminder of the saving power and works of our Lord Jesus Christ, who had come unto this world and became incarnate as Man, that through His mission and works, He might bring healing to a sickened people.

Truly, the readings today, both that of the sixth Ordinary Sunday and the Quinquagesima Sunday are talking about the sickness of the flesh, and thus lead us all to understand that we are all, by our nature, sickened with sin, that is the sickness of the soul, or to link to the readings today even more closely, sin is the leprosy of the soul.

In the first reading, God stipulated the law regarding leprosy and what ought to be done to a person who has leprosy, to His people through Moses. Lepers ought to declare themselves as unclean and walk in shame, while at the same time they also must isolate themselves and exile themselves from the community of the people of God. They ought to remain outside the encampment where the people of Israel stayed in the presence of God.

At the first glance, this may seem to be very harsh and it may seem that God was punishing those with leprosy very severely. But in fact, the truth is that God desires their healing and salvation. If we read the entirety of the Book of Leviticus, and discern the meaning of what God had commanded to His people, we will find that for the case of leprosy, when those afflicted were cured of their condition, they have to present themselves to the priests who would then gave worthy sacrifice for the Lord and welcomed them back into the community of the people of God.

Thus, the same has happened to all of us mankind. We are all sick from the sickness of sin that affects our soul and tainted it. Sin is an abomination and filth that separates us from the loving embrace of our Lord and God, and sin has no place in His presence. Therefore, it would not indeed be too different from the lepers in the past, when Israel walked through the desert from Egypt to the Promised Land, that they were temporarily cast out of the society and had to wander in the wilderness beyond the confines of the camp of the faithful.

We have been separated from God and from being worthy of His salvation by the taint of sin, and as the Gospel of Quinquagesima Sunday also shows us, that blindness is another form of illness that we are suffering from. The blind man begged for Jesus to heal him, and in his faith, he was cured completely from his blindness. Here, there is again yet a clear link between what we heard and another story, when Jesus healed yet another blind man.

The blind man from his birth, who used to beg at the entrance of the Temple was healed by Jesus, and he gave thanks to God and testified to the glory of God, and yet, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law accused him of sinning and of committing the sin by having been healed on the Sabbath day. They cursed him and were angry against him, but indeed, that other story from the Gospel also yet show us how, all of us men are sick, sickened by sin.

For sin blinded our hearts and minds against the love and mercy of God, and also prevented us from recognising the good works of the Lord present around us. It was precisely just as what the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done to Jesus and His works. They refused to recognise God’s love made evident and real through Jesus Christ, who was willing to endure the worst of sufferings and scourges, and bear the consequences of all of our sins with Him to the cross.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, Christ brought about healing and justification to all those who believe in Him, in all those who have abandoned their old ways of sin and evil, and decided to follow Him and walk in His ways for the rest of their lives. This healing and cleansing is the healing of our soul and heart, as well as our mind and body from the corruption of sin and the desires of the world. He is the High Priest, who had offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice to reconcile us with God.

The sad fact is that, like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, too many of us are still too proud to accept our sinfulness as a fact and reality, and too many of us are too haughty and prideful to seek for God’s forgiveness and to humble ourselves before His presence. It is also in our nature to boast of our abilities and greatness, as well as achievements, but not our shortcomings and failures, especially that of sin.

As we approach the season of Lent, and as later we are to celebrate the Most Holy Week of our Lord’s Passion, suffering, death and resurrection from the dead, all of which are part of His works to bring about our salvation and the deliverance of all those who put their trust and faith in Him, let us therefore reflect on our own lives and attitudes. Have we been truly faithful to the Lord, and have we been reflecting and be aware of our own sinfulness and wickedness in life that prevented us from being truly be with our loving God?

As St. Paul mentioned in his epistle we heard for this Quinquagesima Sunday, that our faith must be complemented with hope and love, the three cardinal and most important gifts of the Lord to all of us. If the three are not present together, then they are incomplete. And the greatest gift of all is indeed love, for it is love itself that drove our Lord to come down and to do His works to save us all. Sinners as we are, and unworthy as we are, He still loves us all very much.

Thus, we cannot say that we are truly faithful to the Lord, unless we imitate the love which Christ had shown to us all, who in His gentle and tender love had brought about our healing, the healing we receive so that our entire being are purged from the sickness of sin and evil. But we have to open our hearts to His love and mercy, and the best way to do this is to practice them in our own lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us be truly faithful to our Lord from now on, and show our thanks and gratitude for the love and mercy which He had shown us. Although we are sinners, unworthy and wicked, He was still willing to give Himself for our sake, and even to suffer and die for our sake. Let us all from now on be thoroughly transformed in faith, hope and love, that through these gifts which we exercise in our daily actions and deeds in life, we may grow stronger and more just in the eyes of our Lord, and be worthy for His eternal life. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 15 February 2015 : Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Quinquagesima Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Leviticus 13 : 1-2, 44-46

YHVH said to Moses and Aaron, “If someone has a boil, an inflammation or a sore on his skin which could develop into leprosy, he must be brought to Aaron the priest, or to one of the priests, his descendants.”

“This means that the man is leprous : he is unclean. The priest shall declare him unclean; he is suffering from leprosy of the head. A person infected with leprosy must wear torn clothing and leave his hair uncombed; he must cover his upper lip and cry, ‘Unclean, unclean.'”

“As long as the disease lasts he must be unclean; and therefore he must live away from others : he must live outside the camp.”

Saturday, 14 February 2015 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cyril, Monk and St. Methodius, Bishop, Patron Saints of Europe (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard of the fall of mankind and how mankind had been tainted by sin and evil, because of their disobedience against the Lord’s will and commandments, which He had established with them earlier on when He created them. Sin came into the hearts of men due to the vulnerability of us all mankind against the temptations which Satan arrayed against us.

Mankind received the punishment for their disobedience, and at first it might seem that they would forever be condemned and sundered from the goodness and the graces intended for them from the beginning of time. Yes, God intended not harm for us, but happiness, joy and everlasting fulfillment in Him, as the Garden of Eden was to show us all. Life before sin was perfect and complete, where mankind have all the things that they needed, and above all else, they had their Lord with them, who gave them all that they would ever need.

But mankind fell into the temptation of the evil one, who played upon our natural desire and curiosity, and when he offered our ancestors the opportunity to become equal with God, by getting beyond our boundaries and disobey the Lord, we forever therefore, all of mankind, had been tainted by that rebellion which Satan has brought upon us all mankind. Satan himself had fallen into evil because of his own pride and vanity, which he then passed on to mankind.

And by our nature, it is difficult to satiate our desire and wants. And ever since we ate of the tree of knowledge of the good and evil, our desire to know more and have more for ourselves only increased. And in that, we committed ever more sins, and ever greater in wickedness. How many times we can recognise greed and desire behind the actions of men when they sought to gain more in terms of material goods as well as other things?

And that is why our Lord want to liberate us from our slavery to our desires and wants. He came to show us that all that we need truly is to be faithful to our Lord and put our complete trust in Him, and He will provide us with all the things that we will ever need. He is our Lord, our Creator and our loving Father, and as such, He knows every one of us, in all that we need and in all the things we do.

He cares for all of us, and through Jesus, He made it all clear to us. The feeding of the hungry four thousand men in today’s Gospel tells us all about how God cares for our needs. We all naturally get hungry and we want to eat, and our Lord provided them with food, from the seven loaves of bread He gave His grace and power, and made the bread sufficient for all of them to eat until full.

Yet, one bad trait of mankind is our inability to know the limits to our desires. We always desire for more and more, and the more we are given, even more things we desire for ourselves. The people of Israel when they were on their way from Egypt out of their slavery and into the Promised Land, complained and protested against the Lord that the food that they had when they were in Egypt was much better, even though God had made large birds to come and provide them with those as food, and also with even the bread from heaven itself, that is the manna.

And God also provided them with sweet and crystal-clear pure water which He made to pour out from the earth itself. Such was the love and care that God had poured upon His beloved people, that He gave the best of all things to them. But they spurned that love and rejected Him, complaining and resisting with obstinate hearts. And destruction and ruin were what they deserved.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of St. Cyril and St. Methodius, the holy saints and servants of God who were the evangelisers of the Faith in many countries and areas now known as Eastern Europe. They standardised the language used in those regions, the languages used for the means of the Church. And using those languages and the Scriptures translated into those languages, they managed to bring many people who used to be in the darkness and bring them into the light of our Lord.

St. Cyril and St. Methodius should both give us an inspiration to carry on the knowledge which we have received on the love which our God has for us, to more and more people who have yet to receive it, to those who have yet to witness it, and to all those who still lay in the darkness of the world. They have brought the light of Christ and bring about their salvation.

So much and so great is God’s great love for us that He sent us His faithful servants and called them from the world to bring about our salvation and safety. Thus, shall we all cast aside all of our pride, our greed and our stubbornness, and then carry up our cross and follow Christ our Lord? He has provided us all freely with the salvation that He bought for us through His sacrifice and death on the cross.

May Almighty God bless us all, guide us all on our way, and protect us from harm of the evil one, and while awakening in us the love which we all ought to have for Him. Let us all be thankful and grateful for the rich love and mercy which our Lord had shown us, and be grateful for all He had provided us, knowing how to say enough when we have enough for us, for what we need. God be with us all. Amen.

Thursday, 12 February 2015 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are presented with the readings which tell us about the relationship we have with one another, from the Book of Genesis which is our first reading that tells us about the creation of man and woman, and how woman was made as a companion to man, to help him and that she can also be helped by man. It is therefore a mutualistic relationship, where man complement woman and vice versa.

And that is why we have marriage and the institution of the holy matrimony and the holy institution of the family. That is because the union between man and woman had been decreed and ordained by God since the beginning of time, when He first created man and woman to complete each other and make each other perfect in the sight of God. And He had also given this world to our care, and blessed us all to bear children and spread all around the world.

The union of man and woman had been blessed by God, and indeed God had said that what God had made one, no man shall divide and separate. And from that blessed union, the gift of children came, and many young ones were born, to continue the legacy of mankind, as the new generation of humanity to walk in this world. However, unfortunately, sin entered into the hearts of men, and we became defiled by its darkness.

The people of God had been disobedient, and repeatedly they had abandoned the Lord their God to worship the horrible idols of the world, and allowed themselves to be corrupted by sin. They disregarded the commandments of the Lord and allowed their lives to be filled with the wickedness of sin and evil. But God did not give up on them, just as much as He hated their sins and evils, so much so and even more so that He loved them all and desired their salvation.

That was why He gave Jesus, His own Son, who became Man and incarnate in flesh, to walk as one of us and dwell in this world. He came into the world to reveal the truth to a people who have long walked in the darkness of the world, and bring them into the fullness of God’s love, mercy and salvation. But yet, His own people rejected Him, because they were so full of themselves, so immersed in their pride, and so reluctant to let go of the possessions and things of the world which they had accumulated in their earthly life.

This is where this attitude is contrasted with the attitude of the faithful Syro-Phoenician woman, whose daughter was afflicted and possessed by an evil spirit. She had great faith in Jesus, and knowing and accepting who Jesus was, she poured out her heart to Him, and in great humility, she beseeched Him to help her daughter. She did not even mind being insulted by what Jesus apparently said to her when she asked Him for help.

What Jesus said to the woman was in fact the prejudice and bias which the people of Israel often had of those around them who did not belong to the race of the Jewish people. They have always taken pride of the fact that they were the chosen people, and as the recipients of God’s planned salvation, they took great pride and thought lowly of those who did not belong to their race.

Thus, it is truly a surprising fact and occurrence when the Syro-Phoenician woman, considered to be among the Gentiles, or the non-Jewish people, had so great a faith for the Lord, when the very chosen people of God had refused to believe in Him and hardened their hearts against Him. And for her faith, she was rewarded and her daughter was cured from her afflictions.

Jesus did not intend to demean or insult her at all, but instead, He was rebuking the Jews and the people of God, who was so haughty and proud to the point that they lost their focus in the Lord, and thus they were unable to recognise Him in Jesus. He wanted to chastise His prodigal people, the unfaithful people, that they would be awakened from their long and deep slumber, and follow what the Syro-Phoenician woman had done, that is to be truly and genuinely faithful to the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, today, let us all follow the Lord with all of our hearts and with our entire being focused completely at Him. Let us also be faithful to Him and follow all of His ways and teachings. In this era, we know that the institution of marriage and holy matrimony, as well as the family itself are under great threat. Let us be brave and courageous defenders of marriage, the sanctity of the union between man and woman as ordained by God.

May all of us strive to be holy and pure just as our Lord is. Let us all shun all forms of sin and become righteous as we were all intended to be. Reject Satan and all of his lies, and reject all forms of worldliness. May Almighty God be with us all and bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of our Lady of Lourdes, World Day of the Sick (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (our Lady of Lourdes)

Mark 7 : 14-23

At that time, Jesus then called the people to Him again and said to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and try to understand. Nothing that enters a person from the outside can make that person unclean. It is what comes from within that makes a person unclean. Let everyone who has ears listen.”

When Jesus got home and was away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him about this saying, and He replied, “So even you are dull? Do you not see that whatever comes from outside cannot make a person unclean, since it enters not the heart but the stomach, and is finally passed out?”

Thus Jesus declared that all foods are clean. And He went on, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him, for evil designs come out of the heart : theft, murder, adultery, jealousy, greed, maliciousness, deceit, indecency, slander, pride and folly. All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.”

Alternative reading (Mass of our Lady of Lourdes)

John 2 : 1-11

At that time, three days after Jesus had called Nathanael to be His disciple, there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus was also invited to the wedding with His disciples. When all the wine provided for the celebration had been served, and they had run out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

Jesus replied, “Woman, what concern is that to you and Me? My hour has not yet come.” However His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”

Nearby were six stone water jars, set there for ritual washing as practiced by the Jews, each jar could hold twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them to the brim. Then Jesus said, “Now draw some out and take it to the steward.” So they did.

The steward tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing from where it had come; for only the servants who had drawn the water knew. So, he called the bridegroom to tell him, “Everyone serves the best wine first, and when people have drunk enough, he serves that which is ordinary. Instead, you have kept the best wine until the end.”

This miraculous sign was the first, and Jesus performed it at Cana in Galilee. In this way He let His glory appear, and His disciples believed in Him.