Friday, 7 April 2017 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. John Baptist de la Salle, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard all the insults and accusations which the Jewish people and the opponents of Jesus were hurling against Him because He has revealed Himself to be the Son of God and the Messiah for all the world. They refused to believe in Him and wanted to stone Him for what they considered to be blasphemy against God.

Even though they had seen all that Jesus had done before them, by His healing of the sick, opening the eyes of the blind, making people who were deaf to be able to hear again, and those who were mute to be able to speak again, and even raising people from the dead as what He had done with the son of the widow from Naim and also with the daughter of Jairus, the synagogue official, they still refused to believe.

Why is this so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because they have hardened their hearts and minds against the Lord, not allowing Him to enter into their hearts and minds. They have put their trust in their own human judgment and intellect, thinking that they alone have the knowledge of truth, and when One came into the picture, challenging all that they used to believe, they refused to listen to the truth.

And therefore, it comes to the danger of our human pride and ego, which is the most harmful of all kinds of sins and temptations, as it is pride that brought many people to fall into sin, and it is our ego and pride which made us stubborn and adamant in our refusal to admit and repent from our sins, as the Israelites had themselves once done. And it is what all of us Christians must avoid and remove from ourselves, especially during this time of Lent.

It is pride that had prevented us from humbling ourselves and from realising that all of us are poor sinners. It is pride that had closed the doors of mercy before us, not so much that God had abandoned us or that He had not forgiven us, but instead, we ourselves in our pride and ego had refused God’s offer of mercy and forgiveness, and by our sins due to that pride, we have distanced ourselves away further from God and His merciful love.

Let us today reflect on the life of the saint, whose holy life we are commemorating today, the life of St. John Baptist de la Salle, the founder of the order of the Brothers of the Christian Schools or the Lasallians. St. John Baptist de la Salle was a French priest who was remembered for his dedication to the poorest, the least, the last and the lost among the community, those who have no one else to turn to, those who have been abandoned and unloved.

To that extent, St. John Baptist de la Salle left behind his prestigious post as the canon to the Cathedral of Rheims, a post with great prestige and privilege at that time, and chose to serve the people of God, calling together like minded people and assemble together what would become the Brotherhood of the Christian Schools, providing genuine Catholic education to the people who have once been uneducated and had no access at all to what had once been the privilege of the rich and the elite.

St. John Baptist de la Salle showed all of us the way to reach out to the Lord and to His mercy, by following what he had once done to the least and the poorest among his brethren. He eschewed pride and human ambitions, human glory and fame, renown and prestige, for true faith in God by doing what he could in order to help his fellow brethren, by showing them love, care and compassion.

It is what we all as Christians ought to be doing as well, that each one of us are not Christians just by name, or only on paper, but also through real deeds and works. Let us all make use of this opportunity that God has given us in order to strengthen our faith by devoting ourselves ever more to the works of mercy and love, committing ourselves to help our brethren, in the same manner as what St. John Baptist de la Salle and the other saints had done.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He bless us all in our works. May He remain with us and help us on our way, that we may find our way to Him and be saved in Him. Amen.

Friday, 7 April 2017 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. John Baptist de la Salle, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
John 10 : 31-42

At that time, the Jews then picked up stones to throw at Jesus; so He said, “I have openly done many good works among you, which the Father gave Me to do. For which of these do you stone Me?”

The Jews answered, “We are not stoning You for doing a good work, but for insulting God; You are only a Man, and You make Yourself God.” Then Jesus replied, “Is this not written in your law : I said, you are gods? So those who received this word of God were called gods, and the Scripture is always true.”

“What then should be said of the One anointed, and sent into the world, by the Father? Am I insulting God when I say, ‘I am the Son of God?’ If I am not doing the works of My Father, do not believe Me. But if I do them, even if you have no faith in Me, believe because of the works I do; and know that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”

Again they tried to arrest Him, but Jesus escaped from their hands. He went away again to the other side of the Jordan, to the place where John had baptised, and there He stayed. Many people came to Jesus, and said, “John worked no miracles, but he spoke about You, and everything he said was true.” And many became believers in that place.

Friday, 7 April 2017 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. John Baptist de la Salle, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Psalm 17 : 2-3a, 3bc-4, 5-6, 7

I love You, o Lord, my Strength, the Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer and my God.

He is the Rock in Whom I take refuge. He is my Shield, my powerful Saviour, my Stronghold. I call on the Lord, Who is worthy of praise : He saves me from my enemies!

A deadly flood surrounded me, devillish torrents rushed at me; caught by the cords of the grave, I was brought to the snares of death.

But I called upon the Lord in my distress, I cried to my God for help; and from His Temple He heard my voice, my cry of grief reached His ears.

Friday, 7 April 2017 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. John Baptist de la Salle, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Jeremiah 20 : 10-13

I hear many people whispering, “Terror is all around! Denounce him! Yes, denounce him!” All my friends watch me to see if I will slip : “Perhaps he can be deceived,” they say; “then we can get the better of him and have our revenge.”

But YHVH, a mighty Warrior, is with me. My persecutors will stumble and not prevail; that failure will be their shame and their disgrace will never be forgotten. YHVH, God of hosts, You test the just and probe the heart and mind.

Let me see Your revenge on them, for to You I have entrusted my cause. Sing to YHVH! Praise YHVH and say : He has rescued the poor from the clutches of the wicked!

Monday, 8 August 2016 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the message of the Scripture, beginning with what we heard from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, describing how he was called by the Lord to become the servant and the messenger of His will to the people of Israel in exile in Babylon. The prophet Ezekiel saw the Lord in all of His glory, and he saw the truth about the One Whom he worshipped and praised.

And through what he had seen in the vision, Ezekiel was called by God to be His mouthpiece to Israel, calling them to repent from their sins and to leave behind their sinful ways, following instead the way of the Lord, their God, the only way which guarantees the salvation of their souls. The Lord wanted to forgive His people who have betrayed Him and disobeyed Him, and thus He called on Ezekiel to be that instrument of His salvation.

And in the Gospel today we heard about the Lord Who spoke to His disciples regarding the apparent conflict between obeying the Lord and obeying the laws of men. There seemed to be a conflict between the obligations to pay tax to the Temple and to obey the Lord, Who needs no tax or payment from us, but just our love and devotion. The Lord made it clear that we should just obey things as they are, so long as these do not contradict our faith.

And how do these relate to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is because very often we do not follow the Lord because of that conflict that are existing between ourselves and our worldly ways, with the ways of the Lord. It is often that we cannot commit ourselves because we thought that if we follow the Lord, then we will be closing our opportunities and chances in this world.

Many of us said no to the Lord because we wanted to settle our own lives first, or that we could not commit ourselves fully to serve Him and His purposes because we are concerned with our own wants and desires in this world. We are often in our comfort zones, unable to move out of those comfort zone, worrying about the challenges and the difficulties that we may face if we walk beyond that security and comfort we have in life.

But we have to realise that, for many of us, our lives are not perfect. There are many of us who live in poverty and great sufferings every single day of our lives. We have that commitment to each other, to love those who have little or none, and share whatever blessings we have with them, so that everyone may have enough for themselves and not suffer from hunger or thirst, of from the lack of love. And that is the essence of what being a Christian is truly about.

And perhaps that is why we should heed the examples of St. Dominic, the holy priest and saint whose life was truly exemplary and great, as a devoted servant of our God, who disposed of the ways of the world and sin, in order to attain the greater glory found in God alone. And having found his way to God, he endeavoured to bring many more people, many more souls to the presence of God, followed by many who thought in the same manner, which was the reason for the now famous Dominican religious order.

St. Dominic was a Spanish priest and friar, who was renowned for his great and moving sermons and homilies, through which he called many people to repent from their sins and to obey the Lord their God. It was told that he had devoted himself to the Lord since the years of his youth, and he worked very hard, after joining the priesthood, working among the heretics of the Cathar heresy in order to convert them back into the true faith in God.

He gathered many people with the same aim and the same desire to bring their fellow brethren back into the loving embrace of God, focusing on preaching and the teaching of the truth in order to dispel the falsehoods and lies of Satan. And thus, the Dominican Order, also known as the Order of Preachers, was born. St. Dominic spearheaded its efforts to bring the people of God back to a disciplined life in the faith, and a life where it is often filled with difficulties and challenges.

Certainly, St. Dominic himself led by example, living frugally and acted in accordance with the laws of the Lord. He became an inspiration to many people across many ages, and we too should walk in his footsteps. We as Christians need to work together and overcome that fear and reluctance we have. Do not fear and do not be worried, for God will take care of us of all that we need.

Let us all work together and go forth confidently, filled with faith, zeal and love for God. Let us all help one another to reach out to the Lord our God, and achieve together the justification and salvation which He had promised all those who kept their faith in Him. God bless us all, now and forever. Amen.

Monday, 8 August 2016 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 17 : 22-27

At that time, when Jesus was in Galilee with the Twelve, He said to them, “The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. But He will rise on the third day.” The Twelve were deeply grieved.

When they returned to Capernaum, the Temple tax collectors came to Peter and asked him, “Does your Master pay the Temple tax?” He answered, “Certainly.” Peter then entered the house, and immediately Jesus asked him, “What do you think, Simon? Who pay taxes or tribute to the kings of the earth : their sons or the other people?”

Peter replied, “The other people.” And Jesus told him, “The sons, then, are tax-free. But so as not to offend these people, go to the sea, throw in a hook, and open the mouth of the first fish you catch. You will find a coin in it. Take the coin and let it pay for you and for Me.”

Monday, 8 August 2016 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 148 : 1-2, 11-12, 13, 14

Alleluia! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise Him in the heavenly heights. Praise Him, all His Angels; praise Him, all His heavenly hosts.

Kings of the earth and nations, princes and all rulers of the world, young men and maidens, old and young together.

Let them praise the Name of the Lord. For His Name alone is exalted; His majesty is above earth and heaven.

He has given His people glory; He has given a praise to His faithful, to Israel, the people close to Him. Alleluia.

Monday, 8 August 2016 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 1 : 2-5, 24-28c

On the fifth of the month (it was the fifth year of the exile of king Jehoiakin) the word of YHVH came to Ezekiel, son of Buzi, the priest, in the land of the Chaldeans by the banks of the Kebar. There the hand of YHVH was upon me.

I looked : a windstorm came from the north bringing a great cloud. A fiery light inside it lit up all around it, while at the centre there was something like a glowing metal. In the centre were what appeared to be four creatures with the same form.

I heard the noise of their wings when they moved, similar to the roar of many waters, similar to the voice of the Most High, the noise of a multitude or of a camp. When they were not moving they lowered their wings. I heard a noise above the platform over their heads. Above it was a throne resembling a sapphire and high on this throne was a Figure similar to that of a Man.

Then I saw a light as of glowing bronze as if fire enveloped Him from His waist upwards. And from His waist downwards it was as if fire gave radiance around Him. The surrounding light was like a rainbow in the clouds after a day of rain. This vision was the likeness of YHVH’s Glory. On seeing it I fell on my face and then I heard a voice speaking.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the Lord Jesus who told His disciples and the people, the story about a master of the house who conducted a great feast and invited many people to come for the feast. And yet, all those who had been invited by the master refused to come, when his servant went to them and asked them to come for the feast.

Why is this so? If we noticed, all those who have been invited had their own reasons why they could not make it or why they did not want or could not go for the feast. One mentioned how he has business to attend to, and another has a son who is getting married, and surely the others also had various other reasons that they used as excuses to avoid having to come to the party organised by that master of the house.

In this parable, Jesus revealed to us all, the nature of our wickedness and our failures to follow the commandments of the Lord, as shown through the story of the master and the disobedient and unwilling guests. The master of the house is clearly representing the Lord our God, and the servant whom the master sent to the guests represents the prophets and messengers whom God had sent to His people.

And the guests represent all of God’s people, those whom He has called to His eternal banquet, the banquet of joy and happiness, that is the reunion between us and our Lord. And He has freely given His invitation for us to come and join Him in the joy of His blessings, and yet, it was also many of us who rejected Him and His offer, and in many cases, we even ridiculed those whom He had sent to remind us and call us to Himself.

What is the reason behind our indignant and haughty attitude? What is the cause of this wicked act and lack of gratitude? It is our preoccupation and inability to resist the many temptations that the devil placed on our path in order to block our way as we move towards Him and to our salvation. Instead, he gave us many goods and tempting things to distract us and he hoped that instead of looking towards God, we would look towards him instead.

And thus, that was just like how so many of the invited guests refused to come to the master’s banquet because of their own occupations and busy schedules. Let us all ask ourselves, is it not the same with our own attitudes? Is it not just like how we often reject the Lord and abandon Him for other pursuits such as to satisfy our own greed and desires?

Is it not just as how we often neglect our faith life and prayer life in the name of following our heart’s wishes and wants? We often forget about the Lord our God and only look for Him when we are in trouble or in difficulty. Yes, that is our nature, that in good times we are so preoccupied with ourselves and satisfying ourselves, and then when difficult times come, we hurry to seek the Lord and beg for His help, and when He apparently does not answer us, we often become angry at Him and even curse at Him.

This is our bad tendency and our bad habit. And if we do not change from this habit, we will fall into eternal damnation. Those invited guests who refused to come for the feast truly have no place in the master’s banquet, and their places will be given to another, just as the master asked his servants to gather others to come for the feast instead, even the poor and the destitute.

This is a lesson for us, not to be proud or be too filled with our own ego. We must not think of ourselves as privileged and worthy just because of our own achievements and good things we have in this world. On the contrary, we have to be humble and we have to realise how many debts we had that God had forgiven. He has forgiven us our faults and sins, and He is willing to welcome us back into His embrace, if we are willing to make a difference to ourselves and change.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, perhaps all of us ought to look at the examples shown by St. Martin de Porres, the saint whose feast we are celebrating today. He is a religious and a dedicated servant of God, born in what is today Peru in South America. He lived through a time of difficulty, a time of rampant prejudice and injustice, as someone born in the land that was a colony of the Spanish Empire, he encountered many prejudices and injustice, and once was barred from being able to devote himself fully to the religious life.

But he did not give up, and rather than succumbing to prejudice or even hatred, he continued on to do his works and devotions to many people, especially the poor and the less fortunate. He ministered to the sick and dying, and he devoted himself to those who have little or none, unloved and abandoned. Despite all fhe difficulties and challenges that he encountered, we can see now how much honour and glory he now receives and is a part of in the Lord’s kingdom.

Therefore, brethren, shall we not do the same as well? Shall we not also commit ourselves to good and selfless deeds for the benefit of others? If we show care and love for all those who are around us, then truly we shall receive the everlasting reward of our God. Shall we all consider this and thus do our best to resist our own temptations and the pleasures of this world that we may receive greater joy in the world that is to come?

Let us all walk in the footsteps of St. Martin de Porres and dedicate ourselves more and more to those who are less fortunate around us, and let us all willingly and joyfully go to the banquet that the Lord has prepared for us, and go in to that banquet worthily, donning the vestment of purity, chastity and love, that having shared in His eternal joy, we may forever enjoy His grace and blessings. God bless us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Luke 14 : 15-24

At that time, upon hearing the words of Jesus, one of those at the table said to Him, “Happy are those who eat at the banquet in the kingdom of God!”

Jesus replied, “A man once gave a feast and invited many guests. When it was time for the feast, he sent his servant to tell those he had invited to come, for everything was ready. But all alike began to make excuses.”

“The first said, ‘Please excuse me. I must go and see the piece of land I have just bought.’ Another said : ‘I am sorry, but I am on my way to try out the five yoke of oxen I have just bought.’ Still another said, ‘How can I come, when I have just got married?'”

“The servant returned alone, and reported this to his master. Upon hearing his account, the master of the house flew into a rage, and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.'”

“The servant reported after a while, ‘Sir, your orders have been carried out, but there is still room.’ The master said, ‘Go out to the highways and country lanes, and force people to come in, to make sure my house is full. I tell you, none of those invited will have a morsel of my feast.'”