Saturday, 18 October 2014 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 10 : 1-9

At that time, the Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples, and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place, where He Himself was to go. And He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to His harvest.”

“Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know. Whatever house you enter, first bless them, saying, ‘Peace to this house!’ If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you.”

“Stay in that house, eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house. When they welcome you to any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there, and say to them : ‘The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.'”

Wednesday, 2 July 2014 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Amos 5 : 14-15, 21-24

Seek good and shun evil, that you may live. Then YHVH, the God of hosts, as you have claimed, will be with you. Hate wickedness and love virtue, and let justice prevail in the courts; perhaps YHVH, the God of hosts, will take pity on the remnant of Joseph.

I hate, I reject your feasts, I take no pleasure when you assemble to offer Me your burnt offerings. Your cereal offerings, I will not accept! Your offerings of fattened beasts, I will not look upon!

Away with the noise of your chanting, away with your strumming on harps. But let justice run its course like water, and righteousness be like an ever-flowing river.

Monday, 23 June 2014 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 59 : 3, 4-5, 12-13

O God, You have rejected us and have broken our defenses; You have been angry, but now turn back to us.

You have shaken the land and torn it open; mend its cracks for it totters. You have made Your people suffer; You have given us wine that makes us stagger.

Have You not rejected us, o God? You no longer go with our armies. Give us aid against the foe, for human help is not worth a straw.

Thursday, 10 April 2014 : 5th Week of Lent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God established His first covenant with our father in faith, that is Abraham. Yes, Abraham is our father in faith, because even though we may not be descended from him by blood, but we are all his descendants by our same faith, that is in the same God, the very God who had made His contact with Abraham and made him the father of many nations because of his faith and devotion.

Abraham, once known as Abram, was not chosen because of his greatness, his wealth or his power. He was not chosen because of his abilities or talents, nor because of the number of his sheep, as shepherds with many sheep were indeed very great in his time. No, Abram was chosen not because of all of these. He was chosen because of one singular but very important reason, that is his faith and his actions that were based strongly on that faith.

Abram was faithful, and he was righteous in all of his actions. He lived closely to God’s will and followed the way of the Lord all of his life. He believed in God and he trusted completely in Him, even to the point of giving up his own long promised son, Isaac, to be sacrificed at Moria, when God supposedly asked him to do so. God tested his faith in that moment, and Abram followed through with complete faith and trust in God.

He obeyed God and he believed. And that was how he became renowned and great among many and among the nations. God made true the covenant that He had established with him, and from him came forth many nations and many peoples, uncounted and numerous indeed like the sands on the seashore as God had promised Abram, who later then known as Abraham, the one whom God was pleased with.

God fulfilled the promise He had made with His people, to Jacob that he would be great and a nation would come forth from him, Israel, the chosen people of God, from whom the descendants came the people discussed in today’s Gospel, and Jesus Christ Himself. God also fulfilled the promise He had established to Israel, that He would bring them to freedom and live in happiness in the Promised Land of milk and honey.

God also fulfilled the promises He had made with David, His faithful servant. He promised that his descendants will always sit on the throne of Israel and rule over God’s people forever. Yet, just as in the case of the covenant God established with Jacob and Abraham, it was God’s people who disobeyed the Lord and broke their part of the covenant, by abandoning God and worshipping pagan idols, and committing practices wicked in the sight of God.

The people of Israel and even the kings, among the descendants of David were disobedient, and as soon as the messengers sent by God to remind them of God’s love and promise were gone, they were quick to return to their old, debauched and wicked lifestyle. That was why God gave them to the hands of their enemies, and they were scattered, not to punish them per se, but rather to remind them yet again that without God, they are nothing.

But brethren, does that mean God also forsook His covenant with Israel? No. In fact God remained faithful to the covenants and promises that He had made. Covenant is the greatest form of promise compared to other forms of promises, and it was we and our ancestors who broke the covenant we have with God. God was always faithful and He never gave up on us, unless we ourselves gave Him up for other idols.

And God showed His commitment and love for us, through the ultimate gift that He gave to us, namely the gift of Jesus, His own Son. Through Jesus, God showed yet again, and in finality, the perfect love He has for all of us, and the total commitment He has to the covenants He had made. He fulfilled the promise He made with Abraham, Jacob and David through Jesus, the son of David who is seated at the throne of God and rules for eternity as the King of all kings.

And through Jesus, God made a new covenant, the last and greatest of them all, with us, renewing the promise He had made with mankind of many generations. And this new covenant is sealed by God with none other than by His own Precious Blood, poured out by the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus, who died for us. He died so that we may live, and such is His love for us, indeed!

Yes, brethren, that is how faithful God is to us, and how loving He is towards us. He had proven again and again His dedication and yet we always spurn His love. The people rejected Him because they preferred the devil and his pleasures rather than the true love offered by the Lord through Jesus.

Shall we then follow their examples? Or shall we remain true to the Lord? Let us no longer be rebellious and ignorant of God’s love, but instead embrace His love to the fullest and prove that we can hold our part of the new covenant He had established. May the Lord see in us the love and hope that is still in us, that He may forgive us our trespasses and bring us once again closer to Him. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 5 April 2014 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Vincent Ferrer, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 11 : 18-20

YHVH made it known to me and so I know! And You let me see their scheming. But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. I did not know it was against me that they were plotting, “Let us feed Him with trials and remove Him from the land of the living and let His Name never be mentioned again.”

YHVH, God of Hosts, You who judge with justice and know everyone’s heart and intentions, let me see Your vengeance on them, for to You I have entrusted my cause.

 

Thursday, 3 April 2014 : 4th Week of Lent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s reading from the Scripture, we found that our Lord and God hates sin and the spirit of disobedience. And this was what we witnessed, as the people of Israel sinned against God. They refused to obey the Lord and believe in Him fully without reservations, even after what they had witnessed in the Ten Plagues and the opening of the Red Sea which paved the way to their liberation from Egypt and their slavery there.

That was why God was angry and wrathful, not just because He despises sin in any form, which the people of Israel clearly committed in their debauchery, with the gold and riches they took from Egypt, engaging in lustful revelries and made for themselves a god out of that gold, the golden calf. God loves all of His children, but He also despises sin.

Yet, this is were we are once again reaffirmed of the love and care which our Lord and God has for us. He loves us even more than He hates our sins, and what is this proof? Moses, the servant of God would know of this love, because he saw what God is like and he knew of His will and His plans for mankind, which would involve coming down by Himself, to be the very One to save His people from eternal damnation.

Yes, that proof of God’s love and eternal commitment to us is Jesus Christ, the Son of God and One of the Holy Trinity, the very Word who came to be incarnate to the flesh, and He is the living and eternal proof of God’s love for all of us without exception. Everyone is equal in the eyes of the Lord and they are all equal in God’s favour, except for sin which keeps us apart from the fullness of His grace.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord gave His best to us all, and He did not even hold back His own Son from our reach. Instead, He gave us the One through whom He can directly reach out to us, and similarly, from us to reach out to Him, our loving God and Father. And in Jesus we found the perfection of mankind in love of God, which we all should aspire to.

Yes, brethren, that is in essence because Jesus came into this world not for some meaningless purposes or without any clear goal. On the contrary, Jesus came into this world and gave Himself and His own life, so that we may be freed from the bonds of sin that kept us away from God, but also so that in His examples, we may be made whole and know what God expects from us, just as Jesus Himself had done.

Jesus was the embodiment of the perfect Man, the One who followed the Lord and obeyed Him in the complete and unadulterated fullness of the Law of God, desiring only to serve the Lord and His people, unlike the people of Jesus’ time, especially the Pharisees, who outwardly were very pious, but in fact were concerned and occupied with their own worldly desires and concerns that they forgot to keep the Lord in themselves.

The key message that we ought to bring out of today’s Scripture readings is that God loves us, and He would stop at nothing to help us and to embrace us, giving us His divine mercy and compassion, through none other than Jesus His Son, that we may have hope. So, just as God has loved us with all of His heart and being, shall we not then do the same?

That is the challenge posed to all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ, that we ought to give ourselves and our own love for God, just as He had loved us first. What we usually did was in fact to spurn this love and opportunity which He had given us, and for many, it was not until too late that they realised how much God actually loved and cared for them, because they were too busy with their own human affairs and the affairs of the world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us from now on therefore begin to change our attitude, if our attitude towards God had not been right. Let us all embrace the love God had for us and resolve to love Him back as much as possible. Let us not spurn the great offer which God has given us, in Jesus His Son. In Him only lies the salvation and hope of the world.

May Almighty God bless us, forgive us from our sinfulness, open our hearts that we may ‘see’ His love, understand it, and embrace it to be our own dedication of love, to Him who had loved us first. God be with us all. Amen.

 

Monday, 31 March 2014 : 4th Week of Lent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear how the loving God, our loving God has given His all and His love for everyone who believes in Him, and put their trust in Him. That is the power of faith, our faith in He who created us. God gave us strength and goodness of life, if we keep our faith in Him.

Yes, brethren, that is how strong and powerful faith is. Indeed, without faith and without God we really can do nothing, for it is with God that we are strengthened, and it is with God that our hearts are uplifted and empowered with hope. But what is sad is that, just as the people of Jesus’ time, their hearts are not aligned towards God, and they would not believe unless they are shown wondrous things. They refused to believe unless God give them favours.

But the official and his faith can be an inspiration and an example to all of us. He believed in Jesus, in His words, and in His power to heal his son, even if Jesus Himself did not perform the miracle right before his eyes. This is the kind of faith that we need, to be like the man who love God beyond the things of wonders and the glorious.

For we all know ourselves, that the Lord Jesus Himself came to this world not to be glorified and accepted by all of His people, and instead was made to suffer for the sake of all mankind and to be crucified and die a humiliating death of a slave and a criminal for our sake. This is why the faith in the Lord cannot be a faith that is based on mere appearances or awe-inspiring miracles, but instead have to be based on real and genuine devotion to the Lord our God.

The world today lacks the faith it should have, in God. They have discarded their belief in God and instead put their trust and faith in the beliefs and wisdom of mankind. As a result, they veered more and more from the ways of the Lord and give in to the ways of this world. They cared not for the Lord or the teachings that He brought us, but we care often only about ourselves and our own well-being.

It is not easy to be faithful to the Lord and to follow Him with all of our hearts in this time of uncertainty and temptations, where the devil is moving his forces in the world to corrupt us mankind and turn us from the way of the Lord to darkness. We live in this difficult time hostile to the faith, and where faith is not easy to be found.

Yet, brothers and sisters, if we keep our faith and devotion to God strong and alive, we will be rewarded richly, as the official had been rewarded for his faith. Indeed, there will be plenty of challenges facing us who remain true to our faith, as the devil does not like us, and he hates those who keep their faith. But God will not leave us alone and He will give us His strength and protection.

Brethren, Jesus endured such pain and suffering to save us from the hands of death and eternal damnation, and He persevered through the way of the cross to Calvary, so that we may be saved and receive eternal life. He did so to rescue us, remembering our suffering and fate that is death, because of our sin. He wants to free us from the depredation of death and sin, and thus He gave Himself for us.

If Jesus our Lord was so willing to be our Saviour by sending us the greatest help possible in Himself, then can we not also emulate His examples? Let us no longer be rigid and defiant in our lives against the will of God. Let God and His love flow through us, so that we may also love one another just as He had loved us first.

Let us be faithful and obedient to this Lord our God, who had not just loved us so greatly, but even to the point of giving Himself up for us that we may live. Let us give of ourselves to one another too, imitating how God Himself had given His own Son, His own self, to save us from certain death. May the Lord be with us all, protect us and keep us in His grace at all times. God bless us all. Amen.

 

Monday, 31 March 2014 : 4th Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 4 : 43-54

When the two days were over, Jesus left for Galilee. Jesus Himself said that no prophets is recognised in his own country. Yet the Galileans welcomed Him when He arrived, because of all the things which He had done in Jerusalem during the Festival, and which they had seen. For they, too, had gone to the feast.

Jesus went back to Cana of Galilee, where He had changed the water into wine. At Capernaum there was an official, whose son was ill, and when he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and asked him to come and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.

Jesus said, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe!” The official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” And Jesus replied, “Go, your son lives!”

The man had faith in the word that Jesus spoke to him, and went his way. As he was approaching his house, his servants met him, and gave him the good news, “Your son has recovered!” So he asked them at what hour the child began to recover, and they said to him, “The fever left him yesterday, at about one o’clock in the afternoon.”

And the father realised that that was the time when Jesus had told him, “Your son lives!” And he became a believer, he and all his family. Jesus performed this second miraculous sign when He returned from Judea to Galilee.

 

Friday, 21 March 2014 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 21 : 33-43, 45-46

Listen to another example : There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a fence around it, dug a hole for the winepress, built a watchtower, leased the vineyard to tenants, and then went to a distant country. When harvest time came, the landowner sent his servants to the tenants to collect his share of the harvest. But the tenants seized his servants, beat one, killed another, and stoned a third.

Again the owner sent more servants, but they were treated in the same way. Finally, he sent his son, thinking, “They will respect my son.” But when the tenants saw the son, they thought, “This is the one who is to inherit the vineyard. Let us kill him, and his inheritance will be ours.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

“Now, what will the owner of the vineyard do with the tenants when he comes?”

They said to him, “He will bring those evil men to an evil end, and lease the vineyard to others, who will pay him in due time.” And Jesus replied, “Have you never read what the Scriptures say? The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and we marvel at it.”

Therefore I say to you : the kingdom of heaven will be taken from you, and given to a people who will yield a harvest.

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard these parables, they realised that Jesus was referring to them. They would have arrested Him, but they were afraid of the crowd, who regarded Him as a prophet.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014 : 1st Week of Lent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Today brethren, we see how even a people, who were often prejudiced against by the faithful, as the pagan nations, and a pagan people, with their pagan practices and pagan idols, can turn their back to their sinful ways, and sincerely asking and begging God for forgiveness. That was why Jesus used them as an example to the wayward people of God.

The contrast between what the pagan people of Nineveh had done, with the lack of faith in the supposedly righteous and faithful chosen people of God can be seen very clearly in the two readings. The faithful people of God did not listen to the words of Christ, or at most did not take His message very seriously.

They continued in their debauched and misled way of life, and they even doubted and questioned the authority of Christ in His teachings, by asking Him for signs and miracles, as if what He had done all that time He had spent with them were not enough to them. They refused to believe because they had hardened their hearts against the Lord and closed their ears to His words.

On the contrary, the supposedly pagan and therefore condemned people of Nineveh, the capital of the powerful and all-conquering Assyrian Empire, when they heard the warnings of Jonah the prophet, immediately, from their king to the lowest of the people bowed themselves down, very, very low before God, and humbled themselves with fasting and penitence, showing their genuine regret and repentance for their past sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, an important lesson that we ought to take from today’s readings is that we must never judge on others based on our prejudice or any preformed opinions, and we must never be judgmental in general. We have no right to judge others because we too will be judged with them as one people of the same God.

And God wanted to teach us that no one is beyond redemption or help. What matters is not nationality, race, or any other categories of peoples that will help us to achieve salvation. What matters is how genuine we are in our faith and devotion to the Lord and in following His commandments and teachings. If we are true to our faith and be fully devoted to the ways of the Lord, then we will be considered righteous.

What the Lord wants from each one of us is not blind obedience or empty profession of faith, not substantiated by the action that makes our faith truly genuine and real. Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us keep in mind of what God wants from us, that is our love and devotion! We cannot be half-hearted in our dedication to Him and certainly we will have to live up to our faith.

We cannot be like the people of Jesus’ time who professed outwardly as faithful and religious and yet did not show it in their actions which in fact showed the contrary. We should rather follow the example of the people of Nineveh, who showed their genuine faith and that they believe, not by empty words but through real and concrete actions.

We too, brothers and sisters, ought to show our love for God, by listening to Him, accepting Him in our lives and acknowledging at all times, the love He has for us, and the unworthiness of our sins, which we made and tainted ourselves. And yet our loving God is willing to forgive us from all of that and allow us to be reunited once again with Him.

Let us now therefore pray, brothers and sisters in Christ, that we may be like the people of Nineveh and be sincere in our faith, that we may give a hundred percent of our devotion to God and nothing else. May God too guide us as we make our way towards Him. God bless us all and be with us always. Amen.