(Usus Antiquior) Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 19 October 2014 : Homily and Scripture Reflections

Dear brothers and sisters, all the beloved ones in our Lord Jesus Christ, today we reflect together on the words of our Lord Jesus, when He told us the parable or the story about the banquet prepared by a king for his subjects, their rebelliousness and disobedience, as well as the welcoming of other guests deemed more worthy of the banquet of the king, and how a man without the proper wedding garment was cast out of the banquet into suffering and darkness.

St. Paul in his letter to the faithful and the Church in Ephesus, reminded them to keep strongly the faith in God, and how they should avoid all sorts of iniquities and evils, anger and wickedness, hatred and violence, and many other negativities often occurring in our own selves. Why is this so important? That is because what Jesus had told us in the parable of the banquet of the king refers to none other than our own lives and how we relate to the Lord our God, who is the King and Lord over all creations.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the king in the parable refers to the Lord our God, who prepared a great banquet for all of His subjects, and if we follow the story, these subjects refer to none other than mankind, that is all of us. We are the subjects of the Lord, and all of us are freely invited to take part in the banquet that the Lord had prepared for us. Great joy and happiness indeed await us in that great celebration we ought to have together with God, our King.

But as we can see, from how the invited guests treated the invitation from the king, and also how they treated the servants of the king who went to invite them to the feast, torturing and persecuting them, that this truly represent the sad truth about us mankind, and how we often act in life, in response to the loving kindness of our God, who has loved us so much, and yet who was repaid with much indifference if not outright hostility from His beloved children.

Let us first look at what the invited guests did, when they heard about the king inviting them to the feast and banquet. What did they do? Some of them went on with their daily business and routine, tending their farms and merchant businesses. They disregarded the call of the king, and some even violently treated the servants of the king sent to call on them. What did the servants do, to merit such a treatment? Nothing! It was the guests’ own selfishness and self-preservation attitudes that keep them from doing what is right and rational.

If we do not look at this carefully, we may simply dismiss this parable as a mere story and an imagination, nice to hear and to be listened to, but nothing more than that. That is the real danger of our indifference to the status of our own life and actions. Why is this so? That is because the parable refer to our own attitude when we deal with our Lord and God, as I have mentioned.

Can we ask ourselves and look deep into ourselves at the same time, on how many times that we have been called by the Lord to do something that is good, according to His laws and desires, and yet we dragged our feet and refused to listen and obey? How many of us also complained either openly or deep within our hearts, on the obligations we ought to fulfill as the part of the Church of God? Certainly, if we look at all these, our behaviour often mirror that of the invited guests in the parable.

But as we see again in the readings, that God is patient and ever-loving, and He is also wholly committed to those whom He loves. That is why He continues to send helper after helper, and servants after servants, to help us to get back on track, despite of our sinfulness and disobedience against His will, because the desire of the Lord is to have us all back towards Himself and be purified from our iniquities.

Unfortunately, many of us continued in our disobedience and rebellion, making it difficult for even these servants of God, and throughout history, challenges and difficulties often faced these faithful servants who devoted themselves to serve God. They persevered nonetheless, and despite facing suffering or even death, they continued to do their part to bring as many souls as possible back towards the Lord.

It is a clear and stern reminder for us brethren, that all of us good or bad, be it rich or poor, or whether we have committed things good or evil in our lives, we are welcome to come to the feast and banquet of our King, but then if we are not capable of changing our ways in accordance to what the Lord desires from us, then we will likely end up like those rebellious guests, who received destruction and death as their just reward. Thus, the same fate awaits us, if we are not vigilant and be careful with our actions.

And indeed, if we come to the banquet of the Lord, we must be properly prepared and attired, as all the guests ought to wear a suitable attire to attend such a lavish and wonderful occasion of celebration. Obviously no one would wear a dirty and unclean clothes to such an occasion, nor would anyone even wear their ordinary daily wear or sleeping wear to such an event. A proper ‘attire’ therefore is required, or else, the fate that the man without the proper wedding garment, will be ours as well.

This attire refers not just to the attire and the clothes that we wear on our externals, our suits and garments. Indeed, we have to wear the proper garment as we come to the banquet of the Lord. What is this banquet of the Lord itself? It is the Holy Mass! For the Holy Mass is the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, when He offered Himself in perfect obedience and humility, and love for us all, to be our redemption and salvation from our sins, the Lamb of God.

And remember when Jesus said that all those who eat the Bread of Life and drink from the Blood that brings salvation, they will no longer die but live eternally? That promise which Jesus had made was fulfilled in this holy sacrifice. That is because the Lord gave His own Body and Blood to all those who believe in Him, and we who have been baptised in His Name, share together the Precious Body and Blood of our Lord, in the banquet of the Lord, that is the Holy Mass.

And when we come to the celebration of the Holy Mass, as I have mentioned, of course our external appearance and preparation must be immaculate. But it cannot be just that we dress neatly and properly for the celebration of the Mass, as it is not just the garment of our body that we have to prepare, but also the garment of our heart and soul.

Therefore, let us look deep into ourselves, and how we usually act and do during the celebration of the Holy Mass, the banquet of our King. Are we really present in the celebration of the Holy Mass and are we in the church to focus ourselves to the love of God which He had shown by the shedding of His own Body and Blood? Should we not honour our Lord and King who had given so much for our sake?

Let us all remember these questions and facts, whenever we are tempted to do what is not right, and whenever we are tempted to talk among ourselves and among our friends, to use our phones and to play games instead of being really present in the Holy Mass. And let us also be reminded of this, whenever in our lives we are tempted to forsake our tenets of faith, and all of its principles for the sake of convenience and acceptance by the world.

Hence, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us ask our Almighty Father, to be with us at all times, empowering us with His love and presence, that we may be awakened even more strongly to His love and devotion, so that we may no longer follow the path of sin and debauchery, but in humility and true devotion, seek His mercy and loving embrace. Let us together worship our Lord and King, and partake together with full preparedness, of body and heart and soul, the banquet of our Lord! Amen.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we come together to celebrate the feast day of a great saint of the Church, that is Pope St. Gregory the Great, one of the great popes of the early Church, who was one of the few Popes who was given and truly deserved the title ‘the Great’, all because of his works and dedications to the Church of God, as the great reformer who brought great changes to the practices of the Church in ways that benefitted countless souls and helped them on their path to redemption.

Pope St. Gregory the Great was born in Italy at a time of difficulty when the civilised world was under great trouble after the fall of the Roman Empire in the Western regions of Europe including Italy. The Roman Empire in the East managed to reclaim Italy, but it led to a long series of conflicts and warfare that characterised the early life and indeed much of the life of Pope St. Gregory the Great.

Pope St. Gregory was renowned to be a very great and prolific writer, whose numerous works and writings had inspired countless faithful, brought countless souls back from the brink of damnation, and had also been of a very great impact to the development of the faith in the Church, as well as in terms of the liturgy of worship in the Church. He took part in rejuvenating and reforming many parts of the worship, to make them proper and truly worthy of the Lord in various aspects, including rites and music.

What we know now as the Gregorian Chant can in fact be attributed partly to its namesake, that is none other than Pope St. Gregory himself, he who reformed the ways that Church music was used, and how eventually this beautiful liturgy of worship then developed throughout the many centuries between him and us, and become essentially what we know as the Mass of the Ages, or the Mass of the Tridentine Roman Rite, a Mass and celebration of the liturgy in perfect beauty and worship worthy of the Lord.

Pope St. Gregory the Great also wrote extensively on various topics, on the various aspects of the faith, and he also took part in the defense against heresies and schisms before he was elected the Pope of the Church. He did many good works, the results of which is that the rejuvenation and empowerment of the Church and its teachings on the faith, which brought light and hope to mankind living in darkness and despair after the fall of the Roman civilisation.

He was thus known, along with St. Augustine as one of the greatest Doctors of the Church, especially in the western regions of Christendom, and the legacies of his work can still be easily and clearly felt, both in his successor, the Pope we have today, and the heart of the Church in Rome, where Pope St. Gregory was once the Bishop of, and finally throughout the entire Universal Church itself, particularly in his writings and in his reforms on the celebration of the sacred liturgy.

All of these are to remind us, in accordance with what we heard in the Scripture readings today. Jesus cast out demons in His mission, and those demons tremblingly obeyed the commands of He who is God, and He who is the Word of. God made flesh in Jesus, and He who holds all the authority over all heaven and earth. And God is the One who made all things possible, including all possibilities for us, and the growth of our faith.

We mankind are easily lured away from the path of truth, that is away from the path of the Lord, the path towards salvation. Sin is the tool that Satan used in his continuous and tireless efforts to lure mankind away from salvation and into eternal damnation with him. That is why, the Lord who loves us wants to save us, by sending unto us Jesus, His own Son, to redeem us from the power and dominion of these evil spirits.

Jesus meant business when He came into the world, to heal the afflicted and the oppressed sons and daughters of men from the tyranny and dominion of Satan and his allies. He brought fear to the forces of darkness, which had been for long unchallenged and supreme in their control and grip over mankind. His words is power, and He brought healing and salvation to all those who had been long gripped and enslaved in darkness, bringing them back into the light.

God is truly indeed the One who made all things possible. It is through Him that all things are made possible and real, and through the help of the actions of the disciples and Apostles of our Lord, their successors, the bishops and the priests we have today, we receive this same truth which had been revealed through Jesus and what He had done.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, then what had Pope St. Gregory the Great done in order to relate to these Scripture readings which we heard today? Pope St. Gregory the Great had reformed, established and standardised the ways of worship in the Church, creating a golden standard upon which the later generations would look back upon for reference and guide. Pope St. Gregory not only contributed in terms of his voluminuous writings and letters that helped the faithful to grow stronger in their faith, but also through his works in bringing the heaven itself, the glory of God to earth.

For indeed, the Holy Mass itself can be likened to the heavens brought down to earth, the glories of heaven and the majesty of God brought into our humble abode, no matter how gloriously decorated it is, to house the very Real Presence of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, in the Most Holy Eucharist, which is truly the heart and the centrepiece of the Mass. The Mass is the Sacrifice of our Lord, in which we celebrate the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, when He single-handedly took all of our sins at once, and became the lamb of sacrifice to make us whole again.

Therefore, in essence, the celebration of the Holy Mass itself is a celebration of this very important and crucial moment in our history, and indeed, in the history of all creations. We are celebrating something divine and not something of the world. And thus, a proper and fitting celebration and way of worship is necessary, as a way for us humble men to glorify and praise our Lord who gave Himself for us, to rebuke Satan forever and get us out of the dominion of evil into the light.

Thus, Pope St. Gregory the Great acted similarly to what St. Paul, Apollos and the many other disciples of our Lord, by sowing the seeds of the Lord on fertile soil and helping these seeds to grow by nurturing them and providing for them. Those seeds of faith, hope and love have been planted by the Lord in our hearts, and it is up to us all to allow them to grow and bear fruit. And Pope St. Gregory the Great, together with numerous other saints and holy people of God made this possible.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect on our lives and on our actions, on whether we have lived our lives according to the will of God, and to the way which our Lord Jesus had shown us. Indeed, there will be challenges along the way, as Satan and his allies certainly would not waste their time to attack and assault us in any way possible. But if we remain vigilant and strong, we will be able to resist them and remain true to the Lord?

And how can we do this? None other than through prayer, charity and total devotion to the Lord through our complete and total participation in the celebration of the Holy Mass. Prayer helps us to establish a crucial link with our Lord and God so that we may know His will for us, that we may live more closely according to His ways. And charity helps us to live our faith that we may have a real, concrete and living faith based on our actions and deeds, and not just by empty belief alone.

And lastly, as Pope St. Gregory the Great had initiated and done, we have to have a very great respect and good attitude towards the celebration of the Holy Mass, in which we have to see it as the celebration of the sacrifice of heaven, the very ultimate sacrificial act of our Lord Jesus, who gave His own Body and Blood for us, that all of us who take part in Him may be saved and gain eternal life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore from now on, let us participate fully in the Mass, not by distracting others and ourselves from the Lord, as participation does not equal loud music, loud prayers or excessive gestures. Instead, let us understand the importance of the liturgy of worship and follow what our ancestors and our fathers in faith used to do. In that, our faith will grow, and from there too, the seeds of our love will germinate, grow and produce rich fruits.

May Almighty God bless us all, protect us and guide us on our way in this life, so that we may remain ever faithful, and that we may bear real and living fruits of our faith and love, both for our fellow men and for our Lord. May all of us be gathered together and be empowered with strength to overcome the challenges and the temptations of the world made by Satan to hinder us. May God be with us all, forever and ever. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, Feast of St. Lawrence, Martyr (Double II Classis) – Sunday, 10 August 2014 : Homily and Scripture Reflections

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard how we must cast away from our bodies and our hearts all things that are evil and filled with wickedness. We must make a conscious effort to get rid from ourselves all evil and wicked desires of the flesh, in order for us to be able to fully understand and appreciate what we need to do so that we may attain salvation and eternal life in God.

In the Gospel, Jesus reminded us this fact by first saying that there will be plenty of obstacles, both from the inside of us and from the outside, namely from those who refused to receive God and His ways, and those who collaborated with Satan to undermine mankind like us, that we may be damned and destroyed together with him. Jesus warned us, and St. Paul warned the faithful in Corinth to keep themselves pure and holy in all actions and things to avoid damnation.

Jesus showed this not just by mere words but also through direct action, showing it by casting out those merchants and defilers that had made impure the Temple of God in Jerusalem. Yes, as mentioned, the House of God and House of prayer had been made into a house of impurities, of money and illicit transactions, all designed to bring more wealth and profits to those merchants who cheated the people of God from their possessions.

Those merchants were truly wicked in their actions, using the opportunity presented by the people who were sincerely devoted to God to steal their money from them by inflating the prices of the sacrificial animal victims and through money exchange services, and while the people became poorer, the merchants became richer and richer. The priests and the Pharisees did nothing and in fact supported these merchants because part of the income ended up in their pockets, ensuring their cooperation in sin.

Those merchants and wicked priests of the Lord are truly the representation of the wickedness and evils that exist in us, in many different and various forms, but in which all of them have the same effect, that is the corruption of the House of God, the Temple in which the Holy Spirit resides. Yes, we all should know that all of us are the Temples of the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are the Temple in which God resides.

God resides in us and He is in us when we have been accepted into His Church, and through the waters of baptism He purified the interiors of this Temple, making it into a suitable throne and place of residence for Him within us. But this does not guarantee us salvation, as faith alone without works is insufficient and meaningless without good works to ensure our salvation. We can still sin and do bad things in contrary to our baptismal promises.

Satan is never quiet, brothers and sisters in Christ, and he will always be at work to convert us to his cause, to spread his lies to us that we believe in him and his lies rather than the truth that is in the Lord. Even those priests of the Lord and the Pharisees who supposedly knew about the Lord, were the ones who in fact gave themselves in completely to the hands of Satan.

If we are lax in our devotion and in our faith, as well as in how we live our lives, then our bodies which are the Temples of the Holy Spirit will be defiled, and a House of God and House of prayer will no longer be as what they should be. Brothers and sisters, this must not happen, and we should heed both the warnings of our Lord and St. Paul His servant, renewing our pledge that we should live our lives in accordance to the ways of the Lord.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all work together and do our best to strengthen our faith within us, and the way is by strengthening our spiritual defenses, firstly through prayers, namely by having a good and healthy prayer life, and then through love and charity, by serving the people of God with sincere and genuine love and dedication.

May Almighty God help us on our endeavours, and continue to watch over us day by day, as we continue in our daily spiritual battle against the forces of Satan and the darkness in this world. Let us trust always in the light and the love of our God. Amen.

Friday, 2 May 2014 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard of the story of Jesus feeding the multitudes of five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fishes, and in a great miracle, these few food items managed to satisfy all of them till full and with twelve baskets of leftovers just for the bread alone.

We also heard how the respected leader of the elders of Israel, the Rabbi Gamaliel, counseled patience and caution to the rest of the elders in dealing with the Apostles who were proclaiming the greatness of Christ and taught the teachings of Jesus to the people, and hence rivalling the authority of the Pharisees and the chief priests.

All that we heard today, testify to the one singular fact, that is, we have One Man who came upon us from heaven, sent with power, by the Power Himself, that is none other than Jesus, the Son of the Most High God. Today we celebrate the very nature of Christ who is Son, and who is sent by the Father and bear the power of the Holy Spirit with Him, truly the concept of a Godhead with Three distinct persons yet perfectly in unity, the Holy Trinity.

Today we celebrate also the feast of a saint, a great and holy man, whose life had been given in its entirety to defend this basic and holy truth, the fact that quite a few people of this saint’s time refuse to acknowledge and believe in, and instead they believed in the lies of Satan spread through the heretical teachings of a man called Arius, from whom the Arian heresy got its name from.

Arius and his followers denied the divinity of Christ, by teaching and speculating that the divine and human nature of Christ is separate, and that Jesus Christ who was in this world is merely human created and not equal with the Father, who is God Almighty and all-powerful. For them, it may be unthinkable that God should go through all the humiliating and not-so-good experiences that Jesus had encountered, culminating with the crucifixion and death of Jesus.

They claimed that Jesus is mere man and mere creation of God, albeit One that is special among all other creations. In essence, the view of those who adopted the Arian heresy is not much different from the views espoused by the Muslims who also stressed especially that Jesus is not God in their so-called ‘Scripture’. As such, there had been some people who deemed that the two might be related, and the two heresies might indeed had the same origin.

Nevertheless, all of them were mistaken greatly because they failed to understand the mystery and the sublime nature of God in our faith, that is so great that it begs a better understanding from us. And even with our limited wisdom and knowledge, we are not likely to be able to understand the fullness of God and His mysteries. And that is why our deposit of faith in the Sacred Tradition is so important.

For denying the divinity of Christ is in fact the same as denying the greatness of God Himself, no matter what these people do to justify their ideas and viewpoints born out of mistaken view of the Word of God. They denied the works of salvation carried out by Jesus, for they denied not just Jesus as divine, but also because of that, they denied the salvation that can be offered only by the worthy Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, whose blood made all of us pure and worthy.

If Jesus is not God as Arius and others have claimed, then we have no hope, because the blood of a man alone will not be able to atone for our sins. The blood of Christ saves us exactly because He is divine, both God and man at the same time, one divine person but having two natures, divine and man. This is what we are celebrating today’s saint for, that is in the defense of this truth about the faith, the hard work of St. Athanasius of Alexandria.

St. Athanasius of Alexandria was the Patriarch and leader of the See of Alexandria, which with Rome was the five most preeminent dioceses and centres of the Christian world at the time. St. Athanasius was a great defender of the faith, and despite the popular and provocative teachings of Arius, which brought many people to fall into heresy, he managed to hold on to the firm foundation of faith established since the Apostles, and despite opposition and ridicule by his enemies, St. Athanasius remained firm and faithful.

The hard works of St. Athanasius earned him the faith of the people and the perseverance of many in the face of heresy, and many stood strong for the Lord and did not turn towards the erroneous teachings of Arius. St. Athanasius stood strong for the Lord’s true divine and human nature, and championed the indivisibility of the Most Holy Trinity. He was truly a faithful servant, like that of the Apostles of old.

Remember, brethren, that if Jesus is not God, it will be precisely as what Gamaliel said in the first reading, that the endeavours of man will eventually perish and be gone, but if it is the endeavour of the Lord, not even the greatest force or opposition can make it go away. The Lord will triumph in glory in the end, and this is a fact that we know.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, hence, inspired by the life of St. Athanasius and his actions, shall we walk in the same way as he had walked? Shall we resolve to make a difference in the lives of our fellow men, in a way that we bring the truth of God to them? Shall we bring the light of God to our brethren who are still in darkness, and to those who have been trapped and lured in by the lies of the devil?

May God guide us in our endeavour and our actions, that in all the things that we do, we will always be faithful, strong and completely dedicated to the Lord in all of our days, and show it through our actions and deeds. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 1 May 2014 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of St. Joseph the Worker, which also falls on the same day as the day set aside for the celebration of the right of workers and labourers around the world, commonly known as either the Labour Day or May Day. On this day, workers around the world celebrate their right to equal pay, treatment and rights, as well as even protesting to demand for more, if they did not receive enough.

Today we celebrate the memory of St. Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus, who was also a very diligent worker as a carpenter in the village of Nazareth. St. Joseph is the role model for all workers, not only that he is so diligent and hardworking, but he is also very upright in his actions and did not do things that were in opposition to the Law of God and the teachings of the prophets.

St. Joseph reminded all of us, not just the workers of who we are, namely the children and most beloved of all the creations of the Lord. We were created last by the Lord in creation, and we were made in His image, and as if that is not enough, He also endowed us with His own Spirit that bears life inside each one of us. And yet, we are at the same time, as the first reading from the Book of Genesis mentioned, also made of dust, which the Lord used to craft our mortal bodies of flesh and blood.

Thus the well-known saying that ‘We are dust, and to dust we shall return, which the priest utters every Ash Wednesday as he applies the ash onto our forehead. This is to remind us of our humanity, fragility and mortality, which should keep us to realise that we are in this world as its caretakers and everything that we do, we ought not to do it for our own sake and benefits, but for the sake of the Lord and all our brethren around us.

St. Joseph showed that above all, we should be the bearers of the good will of the Lord, and walk always in the way of God, be righteous in all of our actions and deeds, not turning left or right, or be persuaded or tempted by the world’s persuasions and temptations. As we work, we should always remember to have good work attitudes and openness to suggestions and advice, and not to close ourselves off from cooperating with others.

A truly major problem with our world and its working force is that we no longer work for the good of one another, but we ended up to be in the sole pursuit of one thing, that is money and even other forms of material possessions. As I have often mentioned, money is not necessarily evil, and indeed, it is perfectly neutral and is completely not a vice that we should avoid. The evil lies in us, that is in how we attempt to gain it, how we gain it, and eventually how we use it, and what we use it for.

This world has increasingly become a commercialised and materialistic world, where you can almost literally say that money is king, for those who have more will not just tend to have even more, but that they also are likely to have a better and more enjoyable life. For many of us, working and our actions in work had become nothing more than literally slaving away our lives and our precious time for money, and more money.

We forget that when we work we should be more like St. Joseph, who worked with great simplicity and humility, and while being serious and dedicated to his works, he dedicated it out of love towards God and to his fellow men. As a carpenter, he certainly did not earn much from his works, but certainly from every single furniture he crafted for those who ordered them from him, he gained much gladness and satisfaction, seeing the happiness on their faces seeing the completed product.

Surely we all can visualise and imagine how St. Joseph had worked hard to help provide for the Holy Family, for Jesus our Lord and Mary His mother. It is this kind of simple and yet genuine devotion to one’s work based in love that is the kind of work attitude that we need to have and follow. Sadly the truth is indeed that we have been so caught up in our busy life schedules and careers that we end up forgetting what is the most important thing in our lives.

As St. Joseph has shown us, we cannot discount God out of our lives, as without God our lives will be meaningless and empty, and this is also the reason why so many of us lost our true purpose as we work, that we no longer work for the benefits of others around us, and instead, for our own benefit, that is for our own selves, in our great ego, desire and greed.

It is easy these days to be tempted, brethren, for the temptations of goodness of this world is basically all around us, from all the promotions and commercials that we are exposed to every single day of our lives, that we really cannot escape but notice how much good that this world can grant us. Therefore we are prone to fall into this trap of materialism and commercialism, where we desire more and more the goods of this world, while forgetting that the true purpose we have in this world is to love and to dedicate ourselves completely to the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate today’s occasion on the feast of St. Joseph the worker and the day of celebration of labour, let us always be reminded that we should not be working for the sake of working and to seek for more and more material goods. Instead, as we work, let us have a good purpose to it, especially praising and glorifying the Lord our God.

St. Joseph the worker, the foster-father of our Lord, pray for us all, that we will seek less of our own glory and pleasure when we so something or work, that we do not become creature of ego or the servant of material possessions. Help us through your prayers that we may instead work for the good of one another, and be dedicated to our work just as you had been dedicated to yours. May God be with us all and bless our work at all times. Amen.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

The Lord loves all those that belong to Him, and He cares deeply for all of them. Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why with the Lord on our side, we should not fear, for God will guide our way and protect us from harm, as He had done with His Apostles who spread His Good News to the people.

God’s tender mercy and love for us is indeed so great, that in His willingness to save all of us, as we all know from the well-known passage taken from John 3 : 16 as we read in the Gospel today that the Lord so loved the world that He gave us His only Son, that all who believe in Him may not die, but receive life eternal through Him. That is the complete truth about God’s love and dedication for us all His creations.

Jesus indeed came into the world to liberate it from the darkness that had veiled the eyes of the people for a long time, and He came so that the Law can be explained in its fullness, and its purpose revealed, that is first to bring glory to God, and secondly, to bring mankind and all the people of God back into the loving embrace of their Lord and Father.

Jesus did not condemn anyone for their sinfulness and unworthiness, and He instead proclaimed forgiveness for all those who were willing to repent with true sincerity and turned their backs against their past, sinful lives. He did not judge them unless they themselves had refused to listen and accept His presence and teachings in the first place, as what the Pharisees had done with great impunity and stubbornnness.

Jesus our Lord sought out the sinners and the downtrodden, the so-called least and lowest in the societal hierarchy, that is those rejected by the people, marginalised and ostracised. He sought them out with love, that He might bring God’s love and forgiveness to them, and through this, many believed in Him and were profoundly changed, bringing them closer towards salvation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that in essence, is the Christian love that all of us should aspire towards, and which we should follow, sharing our love, care and attention especially to those who are marginalised and rejected, whose rights are trampled against, and who are treated unjustly. These people need our help, and if our Lord and God did not hesitate to come and save us all, His people, then we too should not be hesitant to help our brethren in need, in whatever way we can.

There will be many who will be against our good works and our charitable acts, just as many had opposed the Lord when He was in the world and exercised His power to bring light to many. There are many people who still remain in darkness, and sadly, that many prefer to remain in darkness rather than to be welcomed into the light, and this resulted in the opposition that we may face as we go about doing what we are doing.

But do not be disheartened, brothers and sisters, and do not fear, for we have to always remember that the Lord is on our side, and He will guide us and protect us on our way, and He will not abandon us to those who seek our destruction. The Lord loves all peoples, and especially those who had given themselves to His cause and walk in His ways.

Today we celebrate the feast of a saintly Pope, the leader of the Universal Church, that is Pope St. Pius V, who was renowned for his leadership of the Church during a time of division and troubles, when the Church of God was assailed from within and without, and when the Church was truly in dire straits, and the fate of the many souls of the people of God were in true danger.

For Pope St. Pius V lived during a time of particularly difficult era for the Church and Christendom in general, when the powerful Ottoman Empire, the heathen-led unbelievers, assailed the very heart of Christendom, and had risen to be a very powerful, all-conquering and mighty empire with an enormous force of arms. Pope St. Pius V lived at the height of the tumult created by Protestant reformations, when misguided people of God turned their backs against the orthodox and true faith of their fathers in the Church.

Today we celebrate the life and examples of this Pope, who reigned as the leader of the Universal Church and the guide of the barque of St. Peter at this difficult time. Pope St. Pius V and his examples were truly legendary and great, and his sainthood cannot be separated from the fact that he managed to keep the Church and the faithful united strongly together amidst the difficulties and the various forces opposed to the people of the Lord.

He led the efforts to fight back the enemies of the faithful by forming a Holy League composed of those who pledged themselves to the Lord to fight for the people of God and in the end won an astounding and total victory at the Battle of Lepanto, which Pope St. Pius V attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Mother of our Saviour, which day of battle he dedicated to be the feast of our Lady of Victory, now known as the feast of our Lady of the Rosary.

Pope St. Pius V also solidified the Church and the faithful by completing with great faith the reforms of the Council of Trent, designed to purify the faith of all human errors and sinfulness, and changing the Church of God for the better while condemning all the erroneous judgments made by the heretical Protestants who cared more for themselves and for worldly glories rather than the glory of God.

Pope St. Pius V is someone whose dedication to the Lord and His Church we should emulate, in our own lives, that we may be dedicated to the Lord as well, that in all of our actions, we may reflect that we are truly the children of Christ, and the followers and disciples of Christ, proclaiming the love and forgiveness of God wherever we go.

May Almighty God be with us, guide our steps and strengthen us as we embark on this journey of life, that, following the footsteps of Pope St. Pius V we may do good to others and be faithful and dedicated servants of our Lord, defending the orthodox and true faith, keeping it pure from any worldly taint of sin and human desires, that we may be in the end, worthy of His presence and glory. God bless us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Share your goods with one another, be with those among you who are lonely, sick, in trouble, or downtrodden, and comfort one another. Assure them that Christ is with them, through your actions. That is the essence of the lives of the early Christian communities, where the earliest converts to the cause of the Lord lived together in perfect harmony and in accordance to the will of God.

In doing what they had done, these predecessors of our faith has eliminated the temptations of this world, in the temptations of money, wealth and power, so that their lives might be completely dedicated to the cause of the Lord, as they had shown in how they lived and treated one another as brothers and sisters, children of the same God.

In essence, what these disciples of Christ had done is true communism and socialism, unlike what had been attempted by those we know as the communists and socialists of our days. They failed miserably, because they lacked God in their system, and they were unable to prevent human desire and intentions from interfering in their attempt to achieve true communism as the disciples of Christ had done.

This of course does not mean that what we have today is bad, or systems like capitalism is bad. It is unbridled capitalism, the desires and hunger for money and more money that is harmful, for it leads us to disregard for our fellow brethren especially those who are in need, and we are in the position where we are able to help them.

In reality of this world, what has been known as communism and socialism is nothing better than the tyranny of the minority and the powerful, that is in the name of championing equality and common good, certain people had taken advantage of the situation and ended up benefitting from what they had done. And these people are those in the positions of power, that is those who have the greatest access to many resources shared by the people, and ended up embezzling them for their own benefits and to the suffering of the people.

Greed, jealousy, fear, dishonesty, and many other vices we know well off are the many problems that mankind commonly face, and these are the main cause behind the problems that prevented the true implementation of common good for all mankind as the early Christian communities had done. That was why so many of the so-called communist and socialist states had failed miserably in achieving their aims, and instead became places where people suffer greatly.

On the other hand, however, we should also not take whatever is in the Scriptures literally. It does not mean that because the early Christian communities had lived as they did, sharing their goods with one another and selling their possessions to be shared, then we too must do the same. Indeed, in this era, in our world today, doing so would merely do more harm than good and it will also hinder us from having the opportunity to help those who are less fortunate.

Having possessions is in fact a great opportunity for us to give help to those who are in need. These possessions can be shared and yet we still have enough for ourselves. Remember that we should not impoverish ourselves to help others, as in fact this may hinder our ability to help them in the long run. What is the most important is that we have the heart for sharing, that is the heart to love another and the giving of ourselves to those who are in need.

It is the attitude that is important for us all, that we open our hearts to God and allow His love to fill us, and from us to the people around us, our brethren. We have to share this love and through the graces that God has given us, some of us have more and some have less, we should share it genuinely and sincerely, without coercion, unlike what those communist states had tried to do, and as what they are doing now in places like North Korea.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, a renowned saint, religious and mystic well-known for her deep faith in God, her holiness and her visions of the Lord. St. Catherine of Siena and her numerous works and writings are essential for the growth of faith in many of those who read them, and she also inspired countless others who followed in her footsteps, with some becoming saints eventually, like her.

St. Catherine of Siena desired that her life be one that is completely on tune with God in complete and total dedication, to the point of even declaring her perpetual dedication to Christ as His spouse. St. Catherine of Siena led a very holy and dedicated life, in deep prayers and fasting, which is often at odds with the society at the time, even clashing with her own family and their desires and plans for her.

St. Catherine of Siena threw far away her pride and human desires, seeking instead the solace and happiness that she could find in God alone, and she was among those called to be the instruments of God’s favour and love for mankind. Through her visions and works, she brought forth numerous writings that exemplified the excellence of her faith, that it shone out of her persona, and in her writings, God made His presence in this world known.

The holiness of St. Catherine of Siena and her dedication to the Lord, which at one point even brought her to be the one to convince the Pope to return to Rome to end the terrible and bitter schism which had divided the Church at that time, is our inspiration, and should indeed empower us to follow her footsteps and become more and more like her in our deeds and actions.

May the Lord continue to guide us in our lives, that we may dispel the superficial and the lies of Satan, and instead seek the truth in God as St. Catherine of Siena had once done. May God be with us, that we may be more and more like Him and when the time comes, may we all be found worthy of life everlasting. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 26 April 2014 : Saturday within Easter Octave (Scriptures Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Today’s readings show us that we no longer have to fear or doubt in the truth of God. For if we stand by God and keep strong our faith, devotion and love for God, we will have everything and God will stand by us and provide us with all that we need. When we doubt, that is the moment of weakness which Satan can use to undermine our faith and our devotion to God, to the point that we may succumb to despair and commit things undesirable and wicked before Him.

This Easter, we celebrate the triumph of God over those who had arrayed themselves against Him, the celebration of the triumph of the good over evil, and the celebration of hope of new life over the old life, one that is decadent and filled with wickedness and sin. This Easter is a celebration of liberation and freedom, of mankind freed from the bonds of sin for eternity by the sacrifice of Jesus our Lord, and through whose resurrection we are made whole once again.

It is very difficult for mankind to let go of the temptations and impediments that were in place on our way towards God. It is very difficult for men to let go these goodness and pleasures that the world in particular are offering us daily. It is very difficult for many of us to let go of our desires, of our prejudices, of our judgments, and of our wants, for we are naturally, a creature tainted by the desires of this world and the desires of our flesh.

It is difficult for us to keep our faith in God, precisely because we are always tempted by sin, and at all times, doubt and fear are always in our minds. We cannot be truly close and intimate with God all because of our lack of total commitment and devotion towards the Lord, because we are unable to commit a hundred percent our attention and lives to God. Instead, we like to dwell in the world and be corrupted by the concerns and things of this world that inevitably lead us to sin.

That is why the elders of Israel, the chief priests, and those in the Sanhedrin of the people of God, supposedly the most learnt and the most educated of the people, opposed vehemently and firmly the presence and the works of God through Jesus, even though they naturally should have been the ones who would first welcome the Lord when He came. Instead, they became His enemies, and became those who attempted to derail the good works of the Lord by opposing in every situation and opportunities, the works of Jesus.

They failed to see reason and the truth of God in Jesus because their hearts had been hardened by sin, by the concerns of this world. Being people of influence and in the positions of power and privilege, they had forgotten their place and role in leading the people of God towards the Lord. Instead, they honoured power and glory, and craved for the people’s respect and praise towards them and did not tolerate any rival to their power and influence, leading to a vicious jealousy and hatred that grew so much, to the point that they even failed to see the truth in the Lord Jesus Christ, and ended up opposing and murdering the very One who would have rescued them from death.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this Easter, we are invited to throw far, far away all these impurities and unworthy behaviours as those that had been exhibited by those who opposed the works of Christ, in the Pharisees and the elders of Israel. We have this perfect opportunity to deny first ourselves, and then the desires of our flesh to seek the pleasures of this world over the approval of God. Let us not waste this golden opportunity to make ourselves anew and dedicate ourselves to a change for the better.

This Easter, let us remember, that the Lord had given His all for us, His love and dedication to the point of death. The cross! Remember always the cross, and how the cross is the ultimate manifestation of God’s love for all of us! And also the empty tomb! Remember that empty tomb, which signifies the victory that God had won for us, to liberate us from the certain defeat of death, and He who had won for us this new life, where we have no more need to fear from sin or death, but forever be filled with the hope of eternal joy in He who loves us.

May the Lord therefore guide us in this Easter season, as we grow stronger and stronger in our faith, and deeper in our devotion and love for God, that we will first always be faithful to Him, and then also be loving and good children and members of God’s family, always showing the Lord to be at the centre of our lives and actions. Let us follow the footsteps of the Risen Lord and His Apostles, and let us all bring the light of Christ to all the peoples, beginning from ourselves, and to those around us, and to the whole world! Let us share the joy of Easter! God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 14 April 2014 : Monday of Holy Week (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today in the Gospel is the sad reality of some portions of the Church and our faith, where people became and end up as hypocrites in their faith, in the name of false almsgiving, charity and humility and end up discrediting the faith itself.

What am I talking about here? It is about some of those who held the view that the Church has to become simple, but for the very wrong reasons. The poverty that these people talked about is literal poverty, stripping the beauty and splendour of the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Lord at the Mass. In the name of false simplicity and poverty, they turned the Holy Mass and its celebration into a playground.

This is a true scandal of the faith, one that is sadly quite existent in our Church these days as it had been in the past decades. They substituted the Lord for their own human desires and lack of appreciation for the true faith that the Lord wants from us. In doing what they had done, they not only doom themselves, but also many others who were innocent, in the process.

In the recent years and decades ever since the end of the renewal of the Second Vatican Council, there had been many mistaken and wayward interpretations on what the Council was truly about, and it ended up on the destruction of the beauty of worship which had been preserved for millenia, and for many years, many parts of the world devolved into anarchy of the faith, because they have failed to understand what the Lord truly wants from them.

They brought low the true meaning of the sacrifice in the Mass, the offering of our hearts and love to the Lord. Yes, just as Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus once offered her love and devotion to the Lord, only to be rebuked unfairly by the betrayer, Judas Iscariot. She offered the Lord her love and the best offering of her humble heart, anointing and preparing Him for His Passion, while Judas rebuked her for the reason of a hypocrite, pretending to love the poor while in his heart, it was truly a selfish concern for himself.

The same too can be said, even today, on those who wreak havoc on the offering of mankind, who had given their best of all as the gifts and offerings of their heart, in the name of false humility and concern for poverty, or the poverty gospel as one may say. We have to love and care for all, especially the poor for they have little or nothing, and there is much that we can give them. But, this must not be used as an excuse to attack the faith or those who love God and seek to glorify Him by giving Him their all.

We like to make these excuses because we fail to understand and have God in our hearts. Our hearts are not filled with the love and goodness of God, but with malice and ill intent, as Judas Iscariot once did, thinking only about himself and his own benefit with the pretext of giving lip service to God and His way.

This we must not do or we risk to walk the same path that Judas had taken. Mankind had lived for far too long under the influence and corruptions of the evil one. Shall we take the proactive stance and say a definitive no to the devil? Let us cast away all the temptations and false promises which the devil has offered us and instead be true followers of the Lord.

May God be with us, and guide us on our way, as we proceed on this journey of life, that we may always persevere and be strong, rejecting the evil and his falsehoods and be like Mary, giving her all to glorify and to serve the Lord. Let us all remain faithful, brethren! Amen.

Saturday, 12 April 2014 : 5th Week of Lent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

God desires the love of mankind, and He loves them very much. That is why He gave us all of His attention and focus, and He offered Himself to them to open for them the pathway to salvation. In a sense, He had granted them great favour, only for them to refuse Him and reject Him, and even reject the salvation which He had freely offered them.

In today’s first reading God promised His beloved people that He will love them and care for them, freeing them from the grip of death and sin, and will provide for them once again as He had once had. We can see indeed how great is God’s love for us, that He gave us chance after chance, and opportunity after opportunity. He gave us hope even when we are in the greatest darkness.

Yet mankind were selfish, and are still indeed selfish even today. We thought only for ourselves and for our own benefits and we complain when things do not go our way. That is our nature, and we often succumb to it. The Pharisees rejected Jesus because of His teachings and ways that oppose their own authority and positions of privilege and honour within the society.

How about the people then? They also rejected Christ because they were reluctant to abandon their former way of life and follow what Christ taught them, and they were also easily swayed by the offer of money and goods of the world, that we can easily see in tomorrow’s Palm Sunday Gospel and Passion readings, how the same people who cheered for Jesus as King when He proceeded into Jerusalem, within less than one week would be condemned to death by the same people. Yes, the same people who acclaimed Jesus as King also cried out for His death.

And it is a fault that we have as we tend to blame the Jews on what happened to Jesus, in how they condemned Him to death and rejected Him and His offer of salvation, because it is always convenient and easy to blame someone else. We think of the Jews to be the ones to blame for the death of Christ, but we conveniently forgot that Jesus Himself was and is a Jew, born son of David, the heir of David and the descendant of Abraham.

And Jesus when He suffered and died on the cross, He did so for all of us, and also including the Jews, both those who had no part in His death and those who had hated Him and condemned Him. He Himself remembered them even in His suffering, asking the Father to forgive them and overlook their sins for their ignorance and lack of knowledge of who He truly was.

God Himself had forgiven them, and He had forgiven us. So for those among us who thought to blame the Jews, the very people the Lord had chosen to be born into, and to those of us who like to put the blame on others, let us from now on reflect on our own actions first. Before we even judge or condemn others, have we been sufficiently pure and worthy in our own actions that we will not be judged? We often forget that when we judge others, we therefore also open the door for us to be judged ourselves.

God did not wish to punish anyone, as indeed, He wanted all of us to be reunited with Him in love. He wishes for us to be perfected in love, that we may leave behind our past sinfulness and wicked behaviour, and become more like Him and be more loving as He is. That was why He sent Jesus to be with us, to be both our Saviour, to break the chains of sin and death, and at the same time also show us how to love, like God has loved us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we approach the pinnacle of our preparation, as we proceed towards the holiest week of all our celebrations, the Holy Week of Jesus’ Passion, let us resolve to be more like God, in becoming more loving and forgiving, in being more inclusive and compassionate, helping one another to approach the Lord rather than condemning or judging each other. Let us reserve no place for Satan in our hearts! For it is in a darkened heart that Satan is happy to dwell in. Let the light of God instead be within us, that He may also guide our ways, that our ways will always be pleasing to God.

May the Lord forgive us our sins and show us how to love Him just as He had loved us first. Let us never be separated again from You, o Lord our God. Be with us always, till the end of time. Amen.