Sunday, 2 November 2014 : Feast of All Souls, 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or Black

Isaiah 25 : 6-9

On this mountain YHVH Sabaoth will prepare for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, meat full of marrow, fine wine strained. On this mountain He will destroy the pall cast over all peoples, this very shroud spread over all nations, and death will be no more.

The Lord YHVH will wipe away the tears from all cheeks and eyes; He will take away the humiliation of His people all over the world : for YHVH has spoken. On that day you will say : This is our God. We have waited for Him to save us, let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.

 

Homily and Reflection :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/01/sunday-2-november-2014-feast-of-all-souls-31st-sunday-of-ordinary-time-homily-and-scripture-reflections/

 

Alternative reading (Mass for the Dead)

2 Maccabeus 12 : 43-46

He took up a collection among his soldiers which amounted to two thousand pieces of silver and sent it to Jerusalem to be offered there as a sacrifice for sin. They did all this very well and rightly inspired by their belief in the resurrection of the dead.

If they did not believe that their fallen companions would rise again, then it would have been a useless and foolish thing to pray for them. But they firmly believed in a splendid reward for those who died as believers; therefore, their concern was holy and in keeping with faith.

This was the reason why Judas had this sacrifice offered for the dead – so that the dead might be pardoned for their sin.

Alternative reading (Mass for the Dead)

Job 19 : 1, 23-27a

Job answered, “Oh, that my words were written, or recorded on bronze with an iron tool, a chisel or engraved forever on rock! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He, the last, will take His stand on earth. I will be there behind my skin, and in my flesh I shall see God.”

“With my own eyes I shall see Him – I and not another.”

Alternative reading (Mass for the Dead)

Wisdom 3 : 1-9

The souls of the just are in the hands of God and no torment shall touch them. In the eyes of the unwise they appear to be dead. Their going is held as a disaster; it seems that they lose everything by departing from us, but they are in peace.

Though seemingly they have been punished, immortality was the soul of their hope. After slight affliction will come great blessings, for God has tried them and found them worthy to be with Him; after testing them as gold in the furnace, He has accepted them as a holocaust.

At the time of His coming they will shine like sparks that run in the stubble. They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will be their King forever. Those who trust in Him will penetrate the truth, those who are faithful will live with Him in love, for His grace and mercy are for His chosen ones.

Shorter version

Wisdom 3 : 1-6, 9

The souls of the just are in the hands of God and no torment shall touch them. In the eyes of the unwise they appear to be dead. Their going is held as a disaster; it seems that they lose everything by departing from us, but they are in peace.

Though seemingly they have been punished, immortality was the soul of their hope. After slight affliction will come great blessings, for God has tried them and found them worthy to be with Him; after testing them as gold in the furnace, He has accepted them as a holocaust.

Those who trust in Him will penetrate the truth, those who are faithful will live with Him in love, for His grace and mercy are for His chosen ones.

Alternative reading (Mass for the Dead)

Wisdom 4 : 7-14

The upright, even if he dies before his time, will be at rest. Honourable age does not depend on length of days, nor is the number of years a true measure of life. A man’s gray hair is understanding, and a spotless life is ripe old age.

The upright was pleasing to God, who loved him, and since he was living among sinners, he was taken up. God removed him lest evil impair his understanding and treachery seduce his soul. For the fascination of evil obscures true values and restless desire undermines a simple heart.

Though his life soon ended, he travelled far. Because his soul was precious to the Lord, he was quickly removed from the wickedness around him.

Alternative reading (Mass for the Dead)

Lamentations 3 : 17-26

He has deprived my soul of peace, till I have forgotten happiness. Now I say, “Gone are my hopes and all my confidence in the Lord.” Recalling my affliction and homelessness is wormwood and gall. Thinking it over and over makes my soul downcast.

But this, when I ponder, is what gives me hope : YHVH’s love abides unceasingly. His compassion is never consumed; every morning it is renewed. And His love remains ever faithful. “My portion is YHVH,” says my soul. “On Him I shall rely.”

YHVH is good to those who hope in Him, to souls who search for Him. It is rewarding to wait in silence for the Lord’s salvation.

Alternative reading (Mass for the Dead)

Daniel 12 : 1-3

At that time, Michael will rise, the Great Commander who defends your people. It shall be a time of anguish as never before since the nations first existed until this very day.

Then all those whose names are written in the Book will be saved. Many of those who sleep in the Region of the Dust will awake, some to everlasting life but others to eternal horror and shame. Those who acquired knowledge will shine like the brilliance of the firmament; those who taught people to be just will shine like the stars for all eternity.

Alternative reading (Mass for the Dead)

Acts 10 : 34-43

Peter then spoke to them, “Truly, I realise that God does not show partiality, but in all nations He listens to everyone who fears God and does good. And this is the message He has sent to the children of Israel, the Good News of peace He has proclaimed through Jesus Christ, who is the Lord of all.”

“No doubt you have heard of the event that occurred throughout the whole country of the Jews, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism John preached. You know how God anointed Jesus the Nazarean with Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all who were under the devil’s power, because God was with Him; we are witnesses of all that He did throughout the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem itself. Yet they put Him to death by hanging Him on a wooden cross.”

“But God raised Him to life on the third day and let Him manifest Himself, not to all the people, but to the witnesses that were chosen beforehand by God – to us who ate and drank with Him after His resurrection from death.”

“And He commanded us to preach to the people and to bear witness that He is the One appointed by God to judge the living and the dead. All the prophets say of Him, that everyone who believes in Him has forgiveness of sins through His Name.”

Shorter version

Acts 10 : 34-36, 42-43

Peter then spoke to them, “Truly, I realise that God does not show partiality, but in all nations He listens to everyone who fears God and does good. And this is the message He has sent to the children of Israel, the Good News of peace He has proclaimed through Jesus Christ, who is the Lord of all.”

“And He commanded us to preach to the people and to bear witness that He is the One appointed by God to judge the living and the dead. All the prophets say of Him, that everyone who believes in Him has forgiveness of sins through His Name.”

Alternative reading (Mass for the Dead)

Revelations 14 : 13

I heard someone from heaven say, “Write this : Happy from now on are the dead who have died in the Lord. The Spirit says : Let them rest from their labours; their good deeds go with them.”

Alternative reading (Mass for the Dead)

Revelations 20 : 11 – 21 : 1

After that I saw a great and splendid throne and the One seated upon it. At once heaven and earth disappeared, leaving no trace. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before the throne while books were opened. Another book, the Book of Life, was also opened.

Then the dead were judged according to the records of these books, that is, each one according to his works. The sea gave up the dead it had kept, as did death and the netherworld, so that all might be judged according to their works. Then death and the netherworld were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. All who were not recorded in the Book of Life were thrown into the lake of fire.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had passed away and no longer was there any sea.

Alternative reading (Mass for the Dead)

Revelations 21 : 1-5a, 6b-7

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had passed away and no longer was there any sea. I saw the new Jerusalem, the Holy City coming down from God, out of heaven, adorned as a bride prepared for her husband.

A loud voice came from the throne, “Here is the dwelling of God among mortals : He will pitch His tent among them and they will be His people; He will be God-with-them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There shall be no more death or mourning, crying out or pain, for the world that was has passed away.”

The One seated on the throne said, “See, I make all things new. It is already done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, I Myself will give the thirsty to drink without cost from the fountain of living water. Thus the winner will be rewarded : For him I shall be God and he will be My son.”

Tuesday, 30 September 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard how Job, the rich man who encountered great calamities because of the works of Satan to tempt him and test his faith in God, lamented about the sufferings which he had endured, and cursed that life which he had been brought to difficulties in, even to the point of cursing and regretting his own birth, a great lamentation and sorrow indeed.

But to all those who are familiar and know the Book of Job well, even though Job complained and complained about many things, and questioned about many things, but in no way that he was being directly disrespectful or insulting against God. Job also in the end realised the love which God had for him and all mankind, and was truly very sorry and repentant for all the abuses and curses which he had uttered.

And in the Gospel according to St. Luke, we heard how Jesus was proceeding to Jerusalem to embrace His mission as the Saviour of mankind, and then when He was passing by a Samaritan village, He asked for a lodging and dwelling, and was rejected because the people heard and knew that He was going to Jerusalem, the capital city of Judea and where the Jews have their centre of power.

We all should know that the Jews and the Samaritans at that time, as it had been for centuries before the coming of Christ, had been at odds and relationship between them had been stormy at best. The Samaritans feared the Jews because the Jews often mistreated them and have strong prejudice against them, and at times they had also suffered under the rule of the Jews, while the Jews themselves, puritan in nature, particularly the Pharisees, strongly condemned and looked down at the Samaritans as pagans and barbarians.

Therefore, it was likely that the Samaritans in the village refused to accept Jesus, not because of any hostile intent or malice, as what was shown by the Pharisees and the people of Israel themselves towards Jesus, but rather because of fear, uncertainty and doubt about what would happen to them, if they were to accept Jesus into their midst. Surely they were also aware that the Jews were particularly not at friendly terms with Jesus and His disciples at the time. It was after all, moments just before Jesus would carry on with His Passion and suffer death at their hands.

And notably, we should see that, Jesus did not punish them, and He even rebuked the Apostles for suggesting that the Lord should punish them for their apparent rejection of Him. This is in fact the same as what happened to Job, when his friends, fellow faithful ones of the Lord, counselled him and in a sense, persuaded him to be admonished, because they thought that Job was a sinner, and it was because of sin that he was punished. The truth was that Job was special, and he suffered not because of his sins, but rather, because he was truly faithful.

Today, we also celebrate the feast of St. Jerome, one of the great early Church fathers, and one of those who initiated the translation of the Bible from the original Greek version, the Septuagint, into a Latin version, which was more comprehensible to the Latin speaking world of the western portion of the Roman Empire, and eventually how we all know the Scriptures we have today, which are further translations from the Latin Bible written by St. Jerome, the Vulgate Bible.

St. Jerome himself once lived a pleasurable and debauched life early in his life, but soon his experiences, especially as he studied the occurrences of death in catacombs awakened him to the realities of hell to come. Thus, he atoned for his sins, and turned his energy into intellectual pursuits, working hard to study the teachings of the Lord and the teachings of His Church.

St. Jerome was indeed quite a scholar and writer, and his contributions to the Church was indeed immense. He wrote extensively, and his writings, together with his contemporary, St. Augustine of Hippo, another Doctor of the Church and important pillar of the Western Christendom, they formed the strong foundation and basis for the development of the faith and the Church in the subsequent years, including up to today.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the fact highlighted here very clearly, after we heard the Scripture and Gospel readings, as well as the life of St. Jerome, we should all realise how our Lord is great, loving and merciful. God does not desire our destruction and suffering, but rather our prosperity and happiness. That is why He will never punish us without good reason, and more often than not, the suffering we encounter in life, was because of the works of Satan and his agents, as well as from ourselves.

It is indeed our wickedness and our lack of faith which caused us to suffer, because these separate us from the love and harmony of God, and we end up to dwell in the darkness of sin and evil, and it is this darkness that cause us suffering, and if we are not careful, we risk losing ourselves completely and fall into eternal damnation together with Satan and his angels.

Clearly this is not what we want. Therefore, let us all today vow to renew our faith to the Lord, and show it through concrete action, so that through our words and deeds, we may bring glory to God and show all those who see us, how great and loving is our God, and how merciful He is to forgive us from all our sins. May all of us be freed from the suffering of evil and this world, and be led into a new life in perfect happiness and joy of the Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are exhorted yet again, to be faithful and dedicated followers of our Lord, through our real and concrete actions, and not just empty promises and dedications. In the first reading from the Book of Proverbs, we are also reminded of the very fact, that what God desires from us is our love and commitment, and not just mere sacrifice.

And today, we commemorate the feast of a great and renowned saint, one who lived just less than a hundred years ago, and in fact he passed away just less than five decades ago. His deeds were still renowned throughout the world and the Church, as a holy man and servant of God, thoroughly dedicated in the service of God and the love he possessed both for God and for his fellow men.

That holy servant of God was St. Pius of Pietrelcina, more commonly known by his name of ‘Padre Pio’, a Franciscan monk and priest who was renowned for his great piety and devotion to God, and for his gift of the stigmata, or the wounds of Jesus Christ that appeared on his feet and his hands, which became for him a source of both great inspiration and strength, as well as of pain and suffering.

St. Padre Pio was a simple man and a simple priest, humble and unassuming, noted for his great piety since early in his youth. He joined the Franciscans and dedicated his whole life to the Lord. He was noted for his dedication to his calling and his work as the servant of God Most High. His charitable acts were numerous and his zeal unquestionable. He would have been perfectly satisfied in his condition and life at the time, if not for God having another plan for him.

Through St. Padre Pio, God wanted to reawaken the spirit of faith that have long been laid dormant in the hearts and minds of men, and through His servant, He revealed His glory and majesty, as He revealed them through the actions and deeds of St. Padre Pio, who worked faithfully and zealously, even though he faced many difficulties, challenges, oppositions, and even ridicule and doubts by the people around him.

St. Padre Pio was therefore like the ones who had obeyed and followed the Lord in His laws and precepts, and as such, he was honoured and glorified through the miracles which He performed through the person of Padre Pio. Through this example, we know that the Lord loves and cares for His people, and all who place their trust in Him will not be disappointed.

This is just exactly like what Jesus said to the people, when He referred to those who do the will of God as His brothers and sisters, and as His relatives. This was said when His mother Mary and His relatives came to visit Him and wanted to meet with Him in the midst of His teachings. Indeed, if one were to just look at the words Jesus said literally, this would be quite an insult to His own mother and also to His relatives, by apparently snubbing at them and rejecting them in the public.

However, if we look at it closely, there is no greater honour that Jesus could do, other than what He had done. As a matter of fact, Jesus had praised and honoured Mary in public, for the very devotion and actions that she had done, the most faithful and devoted of all the servants of God. In the same way, God had also honoured St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio for his piety and great service, and obedience to the Faith. The same therefore, will also be our due if we honour our part in the covenant with Christ and follow His ways in all of our deeds and actions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, from what we have heard today, and from what we had reflected in the life of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, and in the faith and devotion which the Blessed Virgin Mary had shown in her life, as the mother of God and the most faithful servant of all the servants of God, we are therefore also urged to follow their examples, which means for us to reject all forms of evil and impiety in all of our actions, words and deeds.

In this way also, our faith will be real, concrete and living, so that we can avoid committing sins in our lives which will corrupt our hearts, minds and soul and therefore end up subverting our true goodness and undermining our effort to seek out the Lord. We must intensify our own efforts to walk in the footsteps those who have walked before us in the path of the Lord, namely the holy saints, and model our own lives after theirs.

May Almighty God guide us on our way, so that all of us may turn ever closer and more convincingly towards Him, that we may find our way towards Him, and together with those who are still lost, receive justification and salvation through our dedicated actions, which are based on the laws and ways of the Lord. God bless us and guide us, and may the prayers of St. Pius of Pietrelcina be upon us always. St. Padre Pio, pray for us! Amen.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Luke 7 : 31-35

At that time, Jesus said, “What comparison can I use for this people? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace, about whom their companions complain, ‘We piped you a tune and you would not dance; we sang funeral songs and you would not cry.'”

“Remember John : he did not eat bread or drink wine, and you said, ‘He has an evil spirit.’ Next came the Son of Man, eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton for food and wine, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But the children of Wisdom always recognise her work.”

Tuesday, 16 September 2014 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Cornelius, Pope and Martyr, and St. Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about how Jesus healed the son of a widow from Naim, bringing him back from death into life, in which He showed to the people, the loving and merciful aspects of God, who truly loved and cared for all of us. He had pity on the mother who was sorrowful for having been left alone by her son, and brought them back into true joy and happiness in God.

And in the first reading, in the letter written by St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Corinth, about the nature of the Church of God, and how in the Church, which is in fact comprised of all of us who believe in Christ the Lord, there exist a certain hierarchy of its members, which allow the Church to function as a body, just as in our body we have various organs and parts that have distinct functions working together in order to achieve certain goals and actions.

St. Paul mentioned how each members and each people in the Church have their own distinct gifts from the Lord, also known as the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which the Apostles and disciples themselves had received during the occasion of the Pentecost day. Everyone had been called by the Lord for a specific purpose and task, and one ought not to think proudly of himself or herself so as to assume that they can gain for themselves the entirety of the goodness and the gifts of the Lord.

Thus, the Church of God, which is centred on our Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, and we as the members of His Body, has a specific task in order to carry out and continue the good works which Jesus had initiated in this world, that is the works of love and mercy, as He showed through the rising of the son of the widow of Naim from the dead.

The Church of God comprised of many different people, and indeed, different groups of people, from the laity to the ordained ministers, that is the sacred priesthood and those who dedicated their lives in the service of God, and everyone else, including those of us who belong to the group of those who serve the Lord and yet also still live in this world.

And even among the priesthood, we have various roles, such as the bishops and then the priests themselves. Bishops are those who have been given a greater role in the Church, as overseers of a group of priests and the laity, and they are entrusted with the sheep of the Lord’s flock, as the shepherds, who are then led by the chief shepherds on earth, that is the Pope, the Bishop of Rome and the Vicar of Christ in this world, the representation of the Chief Shepherd of all, Jesus Christ.

The bishops therefore lead the Church in the works of love and mercy, and are also entrusted with the supervision duty of the body of the faithful in the Church, and they are also entrusted with the management of the Church. That said, there are also many others who are also involved in the management of the Church, both among the laity, as well as those in the priesthood and the ordained ministry.

The priests serve the people of God in various means, that is by providing them a spiritual guidance and protection against the harms of the devil, and in some cases also by providing alms and charity works for them. Then, the deacons, as we heard in the New Testament, were appointed as those who would serve the people of God directly, aid in the works of charity of the Church, to aid the priests and the bishops, so that they can channel to the people of God, particularly the poorest and the weakest, the love of God through His Church.

Yet, it is sad indeed, that many today in the Church aspire to have everything in their greed and lack of faith. Many began to question their roles in the Church and some even fought in the name of what they described as equality. Therefore we have those who proposed such outrageous ideas such as the abolition of the sacred priesthood and the ordained ministry, as well as the ordination of women to the priesthood.

Those who proposed and supported such proposals failed to understand that each of us in the Church have our own unique roles which help to supplement each other and therefore, it makes the Church stronger. To go against this natural law of order would in fact mean to destroy the unity and strength of the holy Church of God and undermine its authority in this world. Every one has been given a specific and particular gift which enables us to have our own roles in the Church to carry out what the Lord had planned for us.

Brothers and sisters, today we celebrate together as the Church the feast day of two great saints, whose life will inspire us to appreciate the beauty of the order and hierarchy in the Church, namely that of Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian, both holy martyrs of the faith, at the time of the persecutions of the Roman Empire.

Pope St. Cornelius was the Pope and the Vicar of Christ in the middle of the third century after the birth of Christ, during the reign of the Emperor Decius, the great persecutor of the faithful. Then St. Cyprian was his contemporary, as the Bishop of Carthage and the supporter of Pope St. Cornelius’ view regarding the faithful.

The two saints lived in a difficult time, when Christians and all who believed in the Lord were persecuted heavily and when their very lives were threatened by the Roman authorities. And amidst those persecutions, there were those among the faithful who submitted to the will of the state and the Emperor, and gave offering to the pagan idols, essentially an act of apostasy, or leaving the Church of God, who should be thereafter be treated the same as the pagans.

However, some of them repented their sins and returned to the embrace of the Holy Mother Church, and were received back among the faithful as long as they were sincere in their repentance. But, there were those in the Church who were opposed to the return of these so called traitors and apostates and demanded much stricter regulations to even allow them to be readmitted into the Church.

St. Cyprian and Pope St. Cornelius were the champions of those in the Church who would allow the faithful who had gone astray to return to the Church as long as their repentance was sincere. They worked hard among the faithful and among those who had gone astray to bring them back towards the Lord and to heal them from the afflictions of their souls. The laity themselves also played their own parts and supported the works of their shepherds, while they also kept their faith alive and strong despite even great persecutions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, these saints, Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian, who were both eventually martyred for their faith, had showed us the model of their faith, which showed love and mercy for the least of the society, those who were rejected because of the stigma of their status as apostates and betrayer of their faith. They showed that while in the Church itself there were already many different groups of people, there would always be a space for those who realised their errors and repented for their sins.

Let us all therefore reflect on the Scripture readings of this day, and grow to find in our hearts, the role that we can play as part of the Church of God. Let us all work together to continue the good works of Christ, to bring God’s love to all the peoples, and to heal many from their afflictions, both physical, and even more importantly, to heal the spiritual aspects of many people.

May Almighty God, together with the intercession of the holy saints, Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian, bless us this day and guide us, so that we may also follow in their footsteps, to serve the people of God and love one another in the Lord. God bless us all and bring us into His light. Amen.

Monday, 15 September 2014 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, if yesterday we celebrate the great feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, in which we rejoice with God, for the cross which has become a concrete sign of triumph and victory against the devil and his machinations, then today we celebrate the feast and memorial of our Lady of Sorrows, that is of Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus, who was greatly grieved by the suffering and death of her Son at the cross.

Indeed, Jesus is the Son of God, the Word incarnate into flesh. However, many of us often forget that He is also the Son of Mary, for it is through her obedience and acceptance, that the Word of God was able to assume human form in His great humility, to be born from the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother.

Jesus was indeed God in all of His fullness, and He was there before all ages, not counted among the creations, but as the Creator, through whom the Lord created all things. He was not formed as any other children, that is through the union of a male and a female, which bears a new human being. Rather, by the Holy Spirit He was placed in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, assuming the form of a Man.

Nevertheless, we all know that a mother share a special bond with her children, as the child in the womb is nourished by the mother, and the child gets his or her food from the mother herself. Thus, there exists a special link between a mother and her child. The same kind of bond also existed between Mary and her Son Jesus, even though they are not related by blood, but because Jesus Himself once dwelled within the womb of Mary, and then she cared for Him through life as His own loving mother.

You can imagine the kind of feeling that existed within Mary’s heart and the thoughts that ran in her mind as she heard the words of Simeon, who predicted a sorrowful and painful future for her as the Mother of Jesus, a premonition and insight to what would happen in the future of her time, when the Lord Jesus would suffer at the hands of the chief priests and the Pharisees, and then He would endure such brutal treatment that culminated with His death on the cross, a most cruel death.

Yes, and Mary witnessed all of those events. In fact, she followed her Son as He walked down the path of suffering to Calvary, what we also know as the Way of Suffering or Via Dolorosa, from Jerusalem to the hill where Jesus was crucified. She witnessed how her Son was treated like the worst of criminals, even though He was blameless, and how He was framed for false charges and were subjected to lies by false witnesses.

Mary met her Son on His way of suffering, as immortalised through the Stations of the Cross, or Way of the Cross, the fourth station. She followed Him through to His crucifixion, staying close by His side, even witnessing how nails pierced the limbs of her Son, and then she stayed on until He gave up His Spirit and died. Such great indeed was the sorrow and agony that the Blessed Mother of our Lord suffered from, having to witness all these herself.

Yet, Mary remained firm and devoted to the Lord, and she did not doubt the Lord and why such suffering and humiliation occurred to her Son. Mary remained faithful and devoted as she was ever faithful, even though in her heart there was then a great sorrow. But she truly believed in God and in His plans, and just as staunchly and surely as she had said yes to the Archangel Gabriel who brought her the news of her special role in salvation, she also remained as firm as ever in faith throughout that greatest ordeal in her life.

She knew that even with her sorrow and sadness, God was still with her, and that everything was according to God’s plan. And therefore, she is truly our role model in faith, that even in times of difficulty and sorrow, she still held strongly to her faith in the Lord and did not doubt the Lord even for a moment, entrusting everything to God. After all, when the Lord Jesus Christ was risen from the dead, the Lord and His mother both have their final laugh against the devil and the forces of darkness desperately trying to stop God’s will and plan of salvation for mankind.

And this day also, we should reflect once again on the love that a mother has for her children, and in general, the parents’ love for their children. And this love, which should exist in all families united by the Lord, in the recent era and time, especially in our world today, had been gradually eroded by the lack of love and the lack of respect for the institution of the family itself.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how many of us this day actually support actions that break this harmony and love? How many of us are even involved in activities that snuff out lives from innocent ones? What I am referring is the actions of these days’ peoples who are obsessed with terms such as female rights and equality, as well as rights in general, as justification for actions such as abortion, child abuse and even divorce.

These actions are actions that betray love and destroy life, which should indeed be held sacred in what we know as the institution of the family. Yet the culture of today’s world no longer hold the institution of the family as sacred and as something that must be uphold and protected at all times. Instead, family and the sanctity of life had increasingly become more and more meaningless and less precious as time goes by.

In this, we have to look at the sorrow of Mary, which she expressed on the suffering of her Son and His eventual death on the cross. In that we can clearly see how Mary loved her Son, just as all mothers should love their children. Therefore, it should not even be the case where we treat the lives of the innocent children like as if they are nothing.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate this feast of our Lady of Sorrow, let us recall the devotion and dedication which Mary had towards the Lord, and the true, genuine and undying love which she had shown to her Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, where we can see how we should also behave in our own families. Our families must be based on love, that is genuine and gentle love between the parents and their children, and must cherish life, instead of the culture of death which we have today.

Mary, our Lady of Sorrows, in your sorrow, may we all grow to rediscover the love in our families, that parents may be more loving and dedicated to their children and vice versa. May Almighty God bless our families with love, so that our families may indeed be beacons of light and faith for the world, and cherish life and harmony, instead of death and apathy. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 12 September 2014 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary)

Psalm 83 : 3, 4, 5-6, 12

My soul yearns, pines, for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young, at Your altars, o Lord of hosts, my King and my God!

Happy are those who live in Your house, continually singing Your praise! Happy the pilgrims whom You strengthen, to make the ascent to You.

For the Lord God is a sun and a shield; He bestows favour and glory. The Lord withholds no good thing from those who walk in uprightness.

Alternative reading (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Mary)

Luke 1 : 46-47, 48-49, 50-51, 52-53, 54-55

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God my Saviour!

He has looked upon His servant in her lowliness, and people forever will call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, Holy is His Name!

From age to age His mercy extends to those who live in His presence. He has acted with power and done wonders, and scattered the proud with their plans.

He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up those who are downtrodden. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.

He held out His hand to Israel, His servant, for He remembered His mercy, even as He promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.

(Usus Antiquior) Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 7 September 2014 : Holy Gospel

Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam – Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke

Luke 17 : 11-19

In illo tempore : Dum iret Jesus in Jerusalem, transibat per mediam Samariam et Galilaeam. Et cum ingrederetur quoddam castellum, occurrerunt ei decem viri leprosi, qui steterunt a longe; et levaverunt vocem dicentes : Jesu praeceptor, miserere nostri.

Quos ut vidit, dixit : Ite, ostendite vos sacerdotibus. Et factum est, dum irent, mundati sunt. Unus autem ex illis, ut vidit quia mundatus est, regressus est, cum magna voce magnificans Deum, et cecidit in faciem ante pedes ejus, gratias agens : et hic erat Samaritanus.

Respondens autem Jesus, dixit : Nonne decem mundati sunt? Et novem ubi sunt? Non est inventus, qui rediret et daret gloriam Deo, nisi hic alienigena. Et ait illi : Surge, vade; quia fides tua te salvum fecit.

English translation

At that time, as Jesus was going to Jerusalem, He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee, and as He entered into a certain town, there He met ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off, and lifted up their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”

And when Jesus saw them, He said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were made clean. And one of them, when he saw that he was made clean, went back, with a loud voice, glorifying God. And he fell on his face before His feet, giving thanks and he was a Samaritan.

And Jesus answered, saying, “Were not ten made clean? And where are the nine? There is no one found to return, and give glory to God, but this stranger.” And He said to him, “Arise, go your way, for your faith had made you whole.”

Friday, 29 August 2014 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Passion of St. John the Baptist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 6 : 17-29

For this is what had happened : Herod had ordered John to be arrested, and had had him bound and put in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. Herod had married her, and John had told him, “It is not right for you to live with your brother’s wife.”

So Herodias held a grudge against John; and wanted to kill him, but she could not, because Herod respected John. He knew John to be an upright and holy man, and kept him safe. And he liked listening to him, although he became very disturbed, whenever he heard him.

Herodias had her chance on Herod’s birthday, when he gave a dinner for all the senior government officials, military chiefs, and the leaders of Galilee. On that occasion the daughter of Herodias came in, and danced, and she delighted Herod and his guests.

The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want and I will give it to you.” And he went so far as to say with many oaths, “I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.”

She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” The mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried to the king and made her request, “I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist, here and now, on a dish.”

The king was very displeased, but he would not refuse in front of his guests because of his oaths. So he sent one of the bodyguards with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded John in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl. And the girl gave it to her mother.

When John’s disciples heard of this, they came and took his body and buried it.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Monica (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are presented yet again with the great necessity for us to truly live in the faith, walk in the faith, and act according to our faith. It is necessary for us to embody what we believe in, not in just our external dispositions and appearances, but even more importantly that even in our heart, mind and soul we may be utterly transformed to conform the way of our Lord.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law claimed to represent the faith, and they claimed to have great piety and devotion to God, but their hearts were in fact devoid of the love of God. What was in their heart is the love for their own selves and the concern for their own well-being, status, fame and influence. This was why Jesus rebuked them so harshly, for they misused and abused the authority they had been entrusted with.

Then St. Paul in his letter to the faithful in Thessaly also emphasized on the need for action and work rather than mere inaction or passivity in life and in how the faith is lived on. We cannot be mere bystanders or have a passive attitude in living our faith, or else we can indeed be grouped together with the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, as hypocrites and lazy people who neglected their responsibilities and duties to the Lord and His people.

As we all know, faith without good works is a dead faith, and it does us no good nor help us in our way towards salvation. For those who believe that faith alone is sufficient for salvation, then they have failed to understand that faith itself cannot exist without a concrete and deliberate act on our part to live that faith in reality, through our words, deeds and actions. Faith is real and living only when we have taken steps to implement what we believe in our daily actions and deeds.

Otherwise, faith by mere thinking and understanding alone is not enough, as this kind of faith, not only that it is weak and shaky, but it is also not capable of inspiring others to also follow our suit in faith. Worse still, if our actions and deeds do not match that which we believe in, then we are truly hypocrites, who believe and say one thing in this manner, but do not act on it in the same way, and instead in ways contradicting what we profess to believe.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of St. Monica, a great woman and saint, who lived during the time of the late Roman Empire. St. Monica was renowned especially because she was the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the four great original Doctors of the Church, and one of the most crucial pillars and builders of the Church, particularly the Church of the Western Roman Empire, centred in Rome, the heart of Christendom.

However, the virtues of St. Monica did not just come about because she was the mother of a great saint. In fact, it was in her role as a mother and a servant of the Lord that St. Monica had been found worthy of heaven as a holy saint together with her son, whose works and ministries for the Church inspired many around the world at that time, and brought about the salvation of many souls. If that was the role of St. Augustine of Hippo, then St. Monica’s role was equally important, that is the salvation of her son’s soul.

St. Monica was married to a rich Roman nobleman, Patricius, who was still the follower of the traditional Roman religion, the worship of the pagan gods of the Roman Pantheon. St. Monica herself was a Christian, and she was very devoted in her faith, which she showed through her generous charity and works. Her husband had a very bad temper and he was easily angered, but St. Monica worked and prayed hard for his eventual repentance and turning to the way of the Lord.

She also had three children, one of which was to be St. Augustine. St. Monica cared for him greatly and prayed for his sake, that he would grow to be a faithful and devoted servant of God, like that of his mother, having been baptised in early age. However, St. Augustine would go on to disappoint her greatly by immersing himself in the hedonistic and materialistic pleasures of the world, and went on to follow the practice of the syncretist and heretical Manichaean religion.

Although St. Monica was greatly saddened by the actions of her son, she continued to pray and did her best to convince him to return to the faith and repent. It was said that St. Monica wept daily because of her son, and she ceaselessly prayed for his sake, showing the true love of a Christian mother. She followed her son as he went for his journey, and working with another holy saint, St. Ambrose of Milan, she eventually succeeded in turning her son back towards the Lord, who eventually became a great pillar of the Church and the faith.

St. Monica did not give up, and every day, she thought only of her son, and she prayed fervently and without end for the salvation of his soul. This is the kind of faith that we need, one based on dedication, hard works, filled with prayers, tears, hope and action, as what St. Paul had written in the first reading today, and which Jesus had rebuked the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law for, due to their inactivity and hypocrisy in faith.

As we can see, the actions of St. Monica would go on to bring much good for the Church and for countless among the faithful. If not for her hard work, we would not have the wonderful works of St. Augustine, who in turn inspired countless people throughout the ages, and even today, who also followed in the footsteps of St. Augustine and repent their past ways and turn back towards the Lord.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on the Scripture readings today, and on the actions of St. Monica, let us all think about our own lives, whether we have been truly active in living our faith and dedicating ourselves to God, not just by mere words, but also through actions and deeds. Let us all from now on, live our faith truly and concretely if we have not done so, for the good of all the faithful, that more may turn back towards the Lord and be saved. God bless us all and our endeavours. Amen.