Thursday, 12 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 10 : 7-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Go, and proclaim this message : The kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. Freely have you received, freely give. Do not carry any gold or silver or money in your purses. Do not take a travelling bag, or an extra shirt, or sandals, or a walking stick : workers deserve to be compensated.”

“When you come to a town or a village, look for a worthy person, and stay there until you leave. When you enter the house, wish it peace. If the people are worthy people, your peace will rest on them; if they are not worthy people, your blessing will come back to you.”

“And if you are not welcomed, and your words are not listened to, leave that house or that town, and shake the dust off your feet. I assure you, it will go easier for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment, than it will for the people of that town.”

Saturday, 27 September 2014 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the reality of how we are insignificant before the Lord our God, and how limited our minds and intellect are before the Lord, whose will and plans are often not what we want in our lives. Thus, this was why the Apostles and the disciples of Christ did not comprehend the reason why Jesus spoke of His death and His suffering at the hands of the Pharisees and the elders of the people.

Our minds and thoughts are limited, and we are often not aware of what we are doing in our actions. In fact, we often act before thinking. We often jump into action not knowing that we should first carefully consider them, or else we risk consequences for our actions, which are more often than not, negative and harmful rather than positive.

And thus if we dwell always in our pride and our desires, then we are bound to worry, and worry and worry even more, because it is in our nature to worry and to care for our own well-being, to the point that we are deep in our own selfishness and self-preserving attitude, that we even are capable of deeds that cause discomfort and pain to others, so that we may preserve our own benefits and supposedly our happiness.

The disciples themselves still thought in the same way, and worked in the same way. They followed Jesus because they saw first in Him, a great Prophet and miracle worker of God, through whom many people were healed and made whole, had their demons exorcised and cast out of them, and even the feeding of a numerous multitude of four and five thousand men, and many more women and children. And in the end, they even witnessed how Jesus raised dead people back to life.

And in the Transfiguration, we knew how St. Peter, with St. James and St. John were brought by Jesus to the peak of the Mount Tabor, where they witnessed the glory and the true nature of Christ’s divinity, and how they were so joyful and buoyed by the happiness there, that they wanted to remain there forever, asking even Jesus that they ought to pitch tents there to stay on.

That is how mankind are like, as we always prefer the easy path and easy ways, and as much as possible, we tend to prefer to avoid ways of difficulties and challenges. And that was why the three Apostles pleaded with Jesus that they might stay in that place, in the glory of the Lord. But Jesus reminded them with a rebuke, that the reality and the plan of the Lord for us all, is not always a rosy one. He went down the mountain, away from His glory, and eventually, to strip Himself voluntarily from all of His glory and majesty, to suffer and die like a common prisoner and slave on the cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is also the reality about our faith and our lives as the children of God and part of His Church. At times we will encounter challenges and difficulties, and then we will truly be tested on our faith, on whether we ought to keep our own beings first before others and thus succumb to the temptations of our flesh and being, or to listen to the will of God, and do things as He had once done.

And perhaps, the life of the saint whose life we commemorate today will inspire us to do more in our faith, and this saint is in particular, known for his charitable works and even until today is still the patron saints of charitable actions and organisations. He is St. Vincent de Paul, a priest who lived in the late Renaissance era Europe and were renowned as the Great Apostle of Charity.

St. Vincent de Paul was once caught and enslaved by the infamous Berber Muslim pirates, who forced him to work as a slave on rowing ships and eventually was sold from one master to another. One of his master was a lapsed Christian who had converted into the religion of the heretics and apostates, and it was through the patience and hard works of St. Vincent de Paul, that he and his family was converted back into the true faith, and at the same time, St. Vincent de Paul gained his freedom.

St. Vincent de Paul worked hard throughout his life, dedicating himself to the poorest and the weakest in the society. Challenges and persecutions, opposition and hardships were common part of his life, but just as he had suffered even slavery and hardships earlier, he did not give up, and through his works, he became renowned for his great faith and charity, becoming a great source of inspiration to many who followed in his example.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we reflect on the readings of the Holy Scriptures and the Gospels, let us all also take note of the examples and perseverance of St. Vincent de Paul. And we too ought to follow in his footsteps, exercising charity and love in all of our actions, casting away all of the pride and selfishness in us. Instead, let us all follow the way which our Lord Jesus Christ had set up before us, that is to love one another just as He had once loved us first.

May Almighty God thus also awaken the spirit of love and charity inside each one of us, that we may do something to help our brethren in need, especially those who are weak and poor, that the Lord who sees all and knows all, will approve of our actions and justify us in our faith and in our actions. God be with us all, brethren in Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture and Gospel readings highlighted to us the nature of God’s love for us, and how He will provide us with everything we need, and even when we encounter difficulties in this life, we shall not be disappointed by our loving and dedicated God, who takes care of us in everything we need. Yet, mankind are difficult to satisfy, and even despite the numerous goodness that we had received, we always like to demand for more and want for more.

That is in our nature, because men are greedy by nature, and we have been exposed to this ever since our first ancestors were tempted by Satan and failed, who offered them the ‘ultimate’ prize, supposedly beyond what goodness they had received up to that time. The first men, Adam and Eve, lived in perfect bliss, harmony and joy in the Garden of Eden, filled with all of God’s blessings, intended to live happily for eternity.

However, Satan in the form of the snake tempted them with the possibility for them to know the mind of the Lord, that is to gain knowledge of things good and evil, by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which was forbidden by the Lord. Indeed, they had their reservations, but their tempted hearts was too much for them and they eventually succumbed to their desire and greed, wishing to have more than what they need.

In the end, they gained what they wanted, but they lost essentially everything. They were cast out of Eden and have to endure the sufferings of the earth, and they have to toil and work to sustain themselves. They were subjected to suffering and death because of the sin of their disobedience. Yet, mankind were slow to learn from their mistakes, and for ages past, countless peoples were lost because of their uncontrolled desire and greed.

Even today, we are still gripped and enslaved by our desire, which often ends up as our undoing. Many wars and conflicts, violence and hatred, destruction and chaos came about in our world because of our inability to control our desire, and instead we become controlled and enslaved by those desires. Many tyrants and those who committed great evils in the world were due to their inability to limit their pride, their arrogance, vanity and greed. In the process, they caused great damage and sorrow for many people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the readings of today remind us that as the followers of Christ, we should throw far, far away all of these human desires and negative traits and emotions, so that we can truly walk in the way of the Lord and follow His will. That is because, as long as we are under the thrall of our desire and emotions, we tend to serve our own will and purposes rather than listening to God, or to follow His will.

Jesus had called many from among the people to be His disciples, and twelve of these were chosen to be the Apostles, the chiefs of His disciples. But, as the followers of Christ, they did not have an easy life. The world that is opposed to Christ would also oppose the works of His disciples, and it is into this hostile world that Jesus had sent His disciples, to spread the Good News of salvation to many who still have yet to see the light of God.

They were also told to bring just what is sufficient for themselves, and not to bring extra items for them. That is because, God will provide, and indeed, God would walk among them and assist them on their efforts to bring the people of God back into the light. As long as the disciples and the Apostles remained faithful to the Lord, they have nothing to fear from the world, for God would take care of them, and no matter what suffering the world could inflict on them, none of them could destroy or damage the soul, which is something that only God can do.

The same therefore also applies to all the servants of God today, our priests, bishops and all those who have been called and who responded by their dedication to the works which God had entrusted them with. But this does not mean that they should do all the work, and we can rest easy. In fact, we too should help and play our role in our own ability, to bring the Good News of the Lord to those who are around us.

Let us all thus strengthen our faith, through prayer, charity and good works, so that gradually we can liberate ourselves from the slavery to our desires, so that we can truly follow the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who said to the angel, that she is the handmaid of the Lord, and thus all of the will of God would happen to her, and our Lord Jesus Himself, who had said in His agony in the garden, that not His will be done but the will of His Father, and through whose obedience, our salvation was made possible, and we have hope of a new life in God.

May Almighty God sharpen the edge of our humility and obedience, as well as our faith, and dull the edges of our pride, desire, greed and selfishness, so that in our lives we may become more and more like Christ, following God in all of our ways, and proclaim Him through our words, deeds and actions. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 11 July 2014 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbot (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listen about how God cares for us, and indeed, how He takes very good care of us, even after we have sinned and rebelled against Him. And even though this life we have in this world may be difficult and filled with challenges, He will not abandon us or let us walk alone in the darkness.

And today we celebrate the feast of St. Benedict, a well-known saint and monk, who was also known by the name of St. Benedict of Nursia, who founded the Benedictine religious order, and was well-known for his strict rule for his religious order, which entails a strict regimen of prayerful life and life lived in perfect harmony with one another and with God.

But this rule also shows the great values of love, faith, and hope that is instilled in generations of monks and religious, not only in St. Benedict’s religious order, but also many other orders who drew their inspiration from St. Benedict and his works. From this we can see, how this saint was truly a great saint, and how his works had laid a strong foundation of faith for many throughout history.

St. Benedict and many other holy men and women, and many religious and workers of the Lord were truly as what Jesus mentioned in the Gospel today, that is to be like sheep among the wolves, to walk in the path of God amid a worldful worth of sin, temptation and difficulties which Satan placed in our way, to prevent us from reaching salvation in God.

St. Benedict and the many others who came before and after him were all truly faithful and good disciples of the Lord. Not only that they remained faithful amidst all the cunning tricks and lies of the devil in order to subvert all mankind into his cause, but they also worked hard, for the good of all God’s people, and spreading the Good News to the whole world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must follow in the examples of St. Benedict of Nursia, that in our faith we must be truly dedicated to Christ our Lord. We cannot be half-hearted in our faith. Instead, we must ensure that every actions and deeds that we do is in tune with the Lord and His will. We must have a good prayer life and time dedicated for the Lord in our lives. We cannot excuse ourselves of having no time for God.

For if we do not open ourselves to the Lord and allow Him to work His wonders in us, then we risk endangering ourselves by bringing ourselves closer to the corruptions of this world, and yet without God as our anchor for us to hold onto, so that we may not be lost in the torrents and streams of this world. Many of mankind had failed and had fallen on their way to the Lord, all trapped and fell along the way as they got distracted from their true goal in life, that is God.

In this life, mankind are always tempted, every day of their lives. We cannot escape from the allures of the world, and all the good things that Satan used in order to detract us and pull us away from our way towards the Lord, and therefore into damnation. It is easy for us to follow our desires and our needs, and therefore forget about what our Lord had taught us. And this is truly dangerous, brothers and sisters, for we have to remember that, we have just this one chance, and only this chance in life to be freed from the ensnarement of sin.

We need to have a discipline in this life, to control our actions and deeds, so that we may temper our desires, so that we may not be enslaved by them, and therefore will not easily succumb to the temptations of Satan. Therefore, let us follow the example set by St. Benedict and many other holy men who followed after him, and also many those who came before him. We must have a heart shaped and dedicated for love, one that will not bend in the face of evil and its temptations.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all commit ourselves to a new life in Christ, one that is founded on light and not on darkness, one that is founded on love and not hatred, and one that is founded on life and not death. Let us all work together, so that we may begin anew in Christ, and live worthily from now on, if we have not done so. May Almighty God guide us and bless us on our way. St. Benedict of Nursia, pray for us as well, that we may be more like you in faith. Amen.

Sunday, 13 April 2014 : Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, Holy Week (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we begin the celebration of the holiest week of all the weeks in our year. There is no greater occasion than this week in our calendar, and that is why we call it the Holy Week, or the Week of the Lord’s Passion. Why so? That is because during this week itself we celebrate the Lord’s greatest works in this world, that is manifested through His suffering, death and ultimately, His resurrection from the dead.

This week commemorates the time when the Lord finally came forth to bring His long planned salvation, the long-awaited rescue for mankind finally came, through Jesus and the events that He set in motion, to bring forth finally the salvation and eternal rewards God had promised His people since the day of Adam, when he became the first man to fall into sin.

This day is the day commemorating the beginning of that solemn week, when Jesus embark towards His goal, that is also known as the Passion of the Christ, which is why this day is also known as Passion Sunday, marking the beginning of the Passion of Jesus, which He went through out of His great and unfathomable love for us, so great that indeed, in His passion and love, He was willing to give up even His own life for us, and shed His Blood for our sake.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why today some of us may ask, why do we commemorate both the glorification and the death and suffering of Jesus at the same time? Why do we commemorate the glory of Jesus when He entered Jerusalem with a great procession with palm fronds and leaves, only to have the Passion reading heard afterwards? Why so?

Yes, all these are related brothers and sisters in Christ, for Jesus as He headed towards Jerusalem, He perfectly knew that He would be glorified and welcomed just as the prophet Zechariah had prophesied that the promised King would come to Jerusalem riding on a donkey, and in that occasion, Jesus was glorified and acclaimed as the promised King and Saviour long foretold by the prophets. Yet, the very same people would in less than a week, betrayed Him for the powers of the world, and cried out for His death.

Jesus knew all of these, and yet He pressed on, and that is His love for us, the passion that He has for all of us, and this is why we call this momentous event, the Holy Passion of our Saviour. He marched on to His death without fear, knowing that by laying down His life, He became that perfect sacrifice, through which all mankind, that is all of us, are made righteous and worthy of new life in God.

Jesus is the promised Saviour, the Son of David, as the heir and descendant of that faithful king and servant of God, the fulfillment of God’s promise to mankind since the beginning of time. Jesus Christ is the One long awaited and One promised to Adam and Eve, the first mankind.

After Satan tricked both of them in the form of a snake, God promised them that even though Satan would follow through and haunt and dominate mankind for ages, a deliverer would come through the descendant of Eve, that is Jesus, and the woman through whom the Saviour was to be born of, would crush the snake under her heels, and this refers to Mary, the mother of Jesus our Lord and Saviour.

And God promised Abraham that He would make him great among mankind and among the nations, and He would make Abraham the father of many nations, and to David his descendant, God promised an everlasting rule of His descendant on the throne of His people Israel, and all these were fulfilled in Jesus, the Son of David, Son of Abraham, Son of Man, and the Son of God, Divine incarnate into flesh.

That is why the people hailed and welcomed Jesus as He entered the city of Jerusalem, the heart of the kingdom of Israel. He came as a King, the One and true King of God’s people, and the King over all the kings and the kingdoms of the world. But He did not come as a proud and boastful King, and instead, He came knowingly of His ultimate purpose, to be the ultimate servant King, to give up His own life for the life of His beloved people.

Today, as we begin this holy week when Jesus finally began His last week on earth as the Messiah born as a human, and as we cheer Him as the King of kings, as the Son of David, let us also remember what He came into this world for, that is to rescue us, and this He did out of His undying love for us. Remember how He loved each and every one of us that He was even willing to suffer the consequences of our sins in our place, and die for us.

Therefore, as we continue to proceed into this holy week, this holy time, let us use this perfect opportunity to think about our actions, on whether we have been good and faithful servants of our Lord, or whether we have been disobedient and rebellious in our ways, just as the people of God had been. Remember always, that Christ died for our sake, and He went through all that suffering and death just so that we will not have to suffer for eternity the suffering of hell.

God offered His love freely for us, and He laid down His passion freely for us, and it is our part, to accept or to reject this generous offer. Should we then reuse this? After what our Lord had gone through for us? Let us therefore think twice and more than twice from now on, every time we are seduced by the temptations of Satan to sin against the Lord. Let us think well of the consequences of our actions, for the Lord, and even more so, for ourselves.

Let us never be separated again from God, and as we embark on this journey through this sacred time, let us appreciate what Jesus our Lord and King had done for us. Never again take His love and kindness for granted. May this holy week be truly holy and beneficial for us, that we may draw ever closer to God who loves us. Amen.

Friday, 4 April 2014 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Isidore, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the people of God did not accept the Lord Himself who came down from on high to be with us. They thought of themselves as being better and greater than God, doubting Him and did not believe in Him when He came and rejecting His teachings, preferring to trust in their own beliefs.

They closed their hearts and themselves from the Lord because they allowed their fear and human emotions and desires to manipulate them, change them, and sequester them from the love of God. As a result, they see the coming of the Christ, that is Jesus, as a rival, challenge, and danger that must be removed at any cost, rather than as an opportunity to herald the coming of God’s kingdom into the world.

And this concerns in fact not just the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law of Jesus’s time, but also all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ. We ourselves have often placed ourselves as obstacles in the way of the Lord and His salvation, not just for ourselves but also for those around us. We have often followed our own desires, our own ego and will rather than listening to God and obeying His will.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us use this opportunity to reflect on our own life and on our own course of action. Have we been like those who plotted against the Lord just because He came to them and spoke the truth? Or have we accepted Him and listened to Him because of that truth? The truth is often not beautiful or appealing to us, simply because and plainly because we are sinners, and we have committed things that are wicked in the eyes of God and men.

We usually do not like it when things do not go our way or follow what we desired. We complain, we grumble, and we throw tantrum when this happens because we think only about ourselves, and we are only concerned about ourselves. That is why, we in our pride and our arrogance think that we are the masters of the things that we do, and we will never give in, to achieve what we want.

Today we commemorate the feast of St. Isidore, a bishop of late Roman era Hispania, modern day Spain, in Seville. As the bishop and influential leader of the people, both secular and religious, he emphasized on the spiritual renewal of the people and the casting away of the ways of the old, that is the way of wickedness. He worked hard to preach the Gospel and the Good News of the Lord with truth.

St. Isidore helped to convert the people and the kings of his land, the Visigothic kings of Spain, to the true way of the Lord, leaving their heathen and mistaken path of the Arians, who rejected the Lord and His fullness for human ideas and human glories. St. Isidore guided them towards the way of the Lord and guided them to be true followers of God’s will.

The example of St. Isidore showed us how mankind are still often trapped in their own sense of self-righteousness and glory, that they refuse to listen to and look up towards the truth, especially the truth that is in the Lord. Mankind prefer to stay on their pride and refuse to budge even against the Lord and His urging. He sent us Jesus to remind us of the truth, and to take off the veil of pride that covers our eyes.

We have to learn to listen and trust in the Lord, for He knows better than us, and He knows the way to salvation, which we cannot reach on our own, less still by our own power alone. That is why we really should cast away our pride and sharpen the edge of our humility, that we may truly become loving children and followers of the Lord in our actions and our deeds.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we all have a choice to make. We can choose to follow the path of pride, that is to give in to our emotions and fears, to be like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, or to cast away that pride and arrogance, and follow the Lord with all of our hearts, just as St. Isidore and many other great saints had done in the past.

The choice is ours, brethren, and let us therefore today pray, that the Lord may guide us all, and help us to walk together in His light, that we may dwell no longer in the darkness of our pride and stubbornness, but in the light of God’s presence. God be with us all. Amen.

 

Thursday, 3 April 2014 : 4th Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 5 : 31-47

If I bore witness to Myself, My testimony would be worthless. But Another One is bearing witness to Me, and I know that His testimony is true when He bears witness to Me. John also bore witness to the truth when you sent messengers to him, but I do not seek human testimony; I recall this for you, so that you may be saved.

John was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were willing to enjoy his light. But I have greater evidence than that of John – the works which the Father entrusted to Me to carry out. The very works I do bear witness : the Father has sent Me.

Thus He who bears witness to Me is the Father who sent Me. You have never heard His voice and have never seen His likeness; therefore, as long as you do not believe His messenger, His word is not in you.

You search in the Scriptures, thinking that in them you will find life; yet Scripture bears witness to Me. But you refuse to come to Me, that you may live. I am not seeking human praise; but I have known that love of God is not within you, for I have come in My Father’s Name and you do not accept Me.

If another comes in his own name, you will accept him. As long as you seek praise from one another, instead of seeking the glory which comes from the only God, how can you believe? Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father. Moses himself, in whom you placed your hope, accuses you.

If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?