Thursday, 4 December 2014 : First Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John Damascene, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we heard the readings of the Holy Scriptures, it is very clear that is a very strong message which those passages can show us and lead us in how we live out our faith. Today’s readings are about our foundations of faith and the foundations of our lives. It is our choice to have either a strong foundation and security, or to have a weak and shaky foundation and thus risking our own faith and our lives.

And it was also mentioned that, our foundation truly should be in the Lord, who is the Rock of salvation and the Rock of all. He is the strong and unbending Rock who will not be moved by anything, and He is the perfect foundation for us all. No one who put their complete trust and faith in God will be disappointed, for their Lord will secure them and care for them such that, none of them will be lost, no matter how strong the storms of this life can be.

Yes, this world of ours, and all of our lives in this world, no matter how different they are, are filled with many storms. These storms represent the difficulties and challenges which we will encounter on our path, and some of them are serious while some others are less serious but yet still a challenge for us all. In order for us to get to our ultimate destination, we have to go through these storms and endure them to reach safety in God.

What are some of these challenges and difficulties in life, brothers and sisters in Christ? They are the temptations of this world, the many temptations and offerings, which although not all of them may be necessarily bad and evil, but many of these can steer us away from our devotion to God and mislead us into following the evil one and our own human desire and selfishness.

It is in our nature to be selfish and thinking about our own good and benefits, as well as seeking for the pleasures of life. This is our human nature, brethren, and it is easy for us to be trapped in it, if we are not careful. If we allow them to take over us and conquer us, it is indeed then just the same as what the Lord mentioned as the house which was built on the foundation of sand, as when the storm comes, it will wreck the house as its foundation is weak.

This is what will happen, if we place our trust in ourselves, in our own power, in our own possessions and in the things and ways of this world. We are mere humans, brethren, and we are truly fragile. When things that are unexpected come our way, it is very often that we succumb and fall prey to the situation, and this is also the cause of much of the sorrows in this world.

Let me ask you, brothers and sisters in Christ, how many times is it in our world, that mankind had committed violence and acts of hatred, out of their fear and worry about themselves, out of their insecurities and problems? Many of this world’s tyrants and dictators were so worried of losing their power and control, and all that they had attained, their wealth and possessions, that they did all they could to preserve those, and the result is hardships, oppressions and wars.

How many of us lose our friendships or loved ones because of our fear, our worries, and especially our jealousy? It is very often for many of us to covet others’s things and privileges, because we fear and we think that in these things lie our strength and our hope. Then we are sorely mistaken, brethren. For all the things of this world are temporary in nature. Imagine, if someone is to store all his riches and treasures, all the rich cloths and goods in a storehouse and it suddenly burst into fire one day. And imagine if someone stores all of his or her wealth and possessions in a bank, or trusted them to the stock market, and one day the bank goes bankrupt or the stock market crashes.

All these show that while we mankind think that we are mighty and powerful, and if we think that we can put our trust in ourselves only, then we have to rethink it through. Trusting in mankind’s power is risky and fragile, just like a house built on sand. The wealth and possessions, fame and power that we built up in this world is not going to be carried over to the world that is to come.

Remember that Jesus said, build up our wealth in God and not in this world? This means that rather than worrying and fearing about what we need and what we have in this world, we should rather trust everything to God, knowing that He will care for us and provide for us everything that we need. Use our energy and strength instead on giving others the love, care and help which they deserved! And let me share with you the life of a saint whose feast day we celebrate today, and whose actions may inspire us to live deeper in trust to our God.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. John of Damascus, or St. John Damascene, a philosopher and teacher of the Faith, who lived in a difficult time, as during his lifetime, the place where he stayed had been overrun and under the reign of the unbelievers. Yet, regardless of all these and all the difficulties he faced, he continued to serve the Lord in various ways and became a great source of inspiration for many in the matter of the Faith.

Through his writings he revealed the great wonders of the Lord to the people, and they became rich sources of the Tradition of our Faith. And when there were heretics among the faithful who sought the destruction of holy images and icons, in contravention to the true beliefs of the Faith, St. John of Damascus was not fearful to oppose such heresy, even if that means opposing the rulers of the world, the Roman Emperor of the East, who happened to support the heretics’ faith.

The actions and perseverance of St. John Damascene is an inspiration for all of us in how we ought to live our faith. More often than not, our lives in this world will be difficult and filled with many challenges, but if we put our complete trust in the Lord rather than in our own power and judgment, then we are bound to receive the great graces and favours of our Lord, who will guard us and protect us.

Yes, therefore, following the examples of St. John Damascene, the way of a Christian is to be true brothers and sisters to one another, showing mercy and love to those who need them, to be forgiving and loving in all things, and to be completely and fully devoted to our Lord. If we put our trust in the Lord, we shall never be disappointed, for the Lord is the Rock of our salvation, and if troubles come our way, and we anchor ourselves strongly in Him, nothing can harm us, for He will guard and protect us. God, be with us all and bless us all the days of our lives. Amen.

 

First Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/03/thursday-4-december-2014-first-week-of-advent-memorial-of-st-john-damascene-priest-and-doctor-of-the-church-first-reading/

 

Psalm :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/03/thursday-4-december-2014-first-week-of-advent-memorial-of-st-john-damascene-priest-and-doctor-of-the-church-psalm/

 

Gospel Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/03/thursday-4-december-2014-first-week-of-advent-memorial-of-st-john-damascene-priest-and-doctor-of-the-church-gospel-reading/

Sunday, 2 November 2014 : Feast of All Souls, 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or Black

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of All Souls, which means that we celebrate the memory of all those who have departed this life before us into the afterlife. The souls of the dead are separated from their bodies, and while their bodies sleep, their souls await the resurrection of the dead at the end of time, during the Last Judgment, when Jesus the King will come again and judge all the living and the dead, and this is part of our faith.

We believe that all the souls of the righteous will be judged by God to belong to Him, and as the Last Judgment shows, they will be counted among the saved ones, and be granted the eternal life and happiness which God had promised all of us. Meanwhile, the souls of the wicked and all those who had done evil in life, and never repented from those evils, will be cast into the eternal damnation and punishment in hell, with Satan and his angels.

Why do we then celebrate today, as the day of commemoration of all the souls who have departed this life? That is because, our Faith believes that, while the righteous ones and those who have done justly in life, will enter heaven directly, being found worthy of it, who are the saints, whose feast day we just celebrated yesterday, the solemnity and feast of All Saints. And those who are wicked and evil in life, they would be condemned to a state of eternal death and suffering, cast into hell and the lake of fire.

But how about those who were with sin, but yet also were righteous? Many of us are in this state, as we commit venial sins and sometimes even mortal sins, and yet in our lives we also commit things that are good and righteous in the sight of God? God is loving and merciful to us, brothers and sisters in Christ, and therefore, if we had been faithful and righteous in life, despite of our sins, we will not be cast into hell and suffer for eternity without hope.

That is because hell is reserved only for those who constantly refused to listen to the Lord and commit mortal sins, and other form of sins, one after another and failing to seek the Lord’s mercy. Hell is however, not exactly a place, but a state, in which we are separated from God and His love for eternity, without hope of redemption and salvation, as we ourselves have rejected the salvation in Jesus in the first place, through our actions.

The suffering is because of the unimaginable nature of losing God’s love and presence in our lives, which brought despair and sorrow so great that it is painful. This is certainly not the fate which God intended for all those who remain faithful to Him. But at the same time, for many of us, we are still not yet worthy of heaven, for the glory of heaven is reserved for those who are truly just alone, and sin has no place in the presence of God. Remember that God is just and His hatred against sin is as great as His mercy and love for us all.

Therefore, our Faith has the concept of what is called purgatory and limbo, in which the souls of the dead and all the souls of those who have not been baptised and yet are righteous among the nations, remain during their sojourn before they are worthy of heaven, suffering temporarily for the consequences of their sins. In the purgatory and limbo, the souls who are there are not without hope, unlike those who are in hell, but they also long for the happiness and joy of heaven which the saints enjoy, and that temporal separation from God, even though not permanent like those souls in hell, bring them great longing and great suffering.

Therefore, on this commemoration of the All Souls’ Day, we commemorate those souls of our brethren, who had departed before us, and we pray for them, asking also the intercession of the saints and imploring the Lord for His generous mercy, to be given to those souls who now suffer in purgatory, for the venial sins and other impurities which prevent them from truly being with God.

But at the same time, this occasion should also be a reminder for us who are still alive, that we should take heed of this fate of the souls suffering in purgatory, and even more so, that we take heed of what is going to happen to the wicked and those who embrace evil, who will be cast down into hell. We have to be vigilant in our own lives, and guard our actions, that evil will not have its way into us, and cause us to commit sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, our Church in fact consist not just all of us who believe in Christ in this world today, as this is just one component of the Church of God. We are the Church Militant, who are still living and walking on this world, fighting constantly and regularly in a spiritual battle against the forces of evil, and resisting all forms of sin, we ought to lead a righteous life, to guard against Satan and to be justified in our faith that we merit salvation.

But our Church also consists of the Church Triumphant, which consists of the holy saints, men and women who had been found worthy to merit the glory of heaven, and yet, as I have mentioned yesterday, and as we celebrated the feast of All Saints yesterday, they are still very much together with us, and they constantly pray for our sake, and being close to the throne of God, they are our intercessors, asking for God to show us His mercy and love.

And lastly, our Church also consists of the Church Suffering, namely the souls of the dead who are still in purgatory, suffering for their sins, on their path to heaven, and yet at the same time, they are again also very much still with us, as even death does not part them from us. They are all aware of their sins and how these sins had prevented them from directly enjoying the fullness of God’s promise and how they had suffered because of that.

Thus, they too are praying for our sake, imploring the Lord to send us reminders and strength, to overcome our evils and wickedness, while we still have time, and not to wait until it is too late for us. As at best, our sins will prevent us from being found worthy of heaven directly, and we will end up in purgatory just as they are now in purgatory, or even at worst, that we may end up falling into the endless pit of hell, without any way or hope of escaping it.

Therefore, on this day, we really should use the opportunity, to pray for our beloved ones, and also for every other souls who have departed this life, that the Lord will show mercy on them. We should ask the saints for their intercession, that they will also pray for the sake of the souls in purgatory, as well as pray for us too, so that all of us may be eventually found worthy by the Lord and escape suffering towards eternal life and salvation, together with them the saints, in the glory of heaven.

Let us commit all of us to prayer, that we pray for all the members of the Church, particularly all of us the Church Militant, fighting constantly against evil of this world, and those in purgatory, the Church Suffering. We should pray for one another and help one another to guard ourselves from wickedness, that God’s promised salvation will bear fruit in us, through our faith, our repentance and our devotion to Him.

Nevertheless, this day of All Souls remind us yet again, and the Scriptures also affirmed that we should have no reason to fear death, or fear the condemnation and suffering of hell at all. That is because, even though because of sin, our disobedience against God, we will die, but we will not die forever. Jesus our Lord Himself had made the ultimate proof, when He died on the cross for us, and then rose in glory and majesty, showing that He had conquered death.

Therefore, even as we remember the dead today, and even as we reflect on the nature and inevitability of death to all of us, we have to always remember and put our complete hope and trust in our Lord Jesus, our Risen Lord and Saviour. Through His death we have also died to our sins and to our past lives, and through His Resurrection we have been brought into a new life, a life that is justified by faith and by our love for God.

That is why the sacrament of Baptism is so important, just as the Scriptures mentioned, that through the waters of baptism, when we are immersed in it, we have been ‘drowned’ unto death, the death from our old lives, filled with sin, impurities and wickedness of our heart and soul, and we have been remade into a clean, pure slate, which the Lord transformed into a new life through His resurrection. We did not remain in death, but we rise with Him in glory, if we choose to follow Him faithfully and devotedly.

Death and sin has no say over us, brothers and sisters in Christ, if we remain faithful to the Lord, and if we put our trust solely in Him alone. The belief in the resurrection is central to our faith, and as long as we believe in this, we shall have the eternal assurance of life and salvation, which our loving God had made through Jesus His Son. The souls in purgatory and limbo also knows this, and they prayed ceaselessly for the end of their suffering, when their sins are made clean, and they once again reunite with their Lord. The Lord had indeed won the final victory over death.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, on this occasion today, let us first be reminded that the consequences of sin is death, and death is fatal for us, if we do not make the conscious effort to detach us from those sins, then we are in great danger of falling into eternal damnation. Let us not be deceived by our own glory and achievements, for remember that we are all mortals, and eventually whatever we have in this world, will mean nothing if we have not done them in the Name of God.

Let us instead, look upon the examples of the holy saints, who have put their trust in God, and walked in His path. They have abandoned their wicked past, and cast away their old lives of sin, and in return they received the glory of God, and the fullness of divine promise made through Jesus, our Lord. Following the examples of the saints is a foolproof and guaranteed path for us, that we may also become justified in our faith, and therefore be assured in our own salvation.

And lastly, let us never forget those who have gone before us, and those whom we have loved, who have predeceased us, and now who may be in purgatory, seeking to be united in complete fullness with God. We pray for them, and ask the saints for their intercession for the sake of these souls in purgatory and limbo as well, that they may be delivered from the suffering which they now endure for their sins.

May after their sufferings, their sins are cleansed and they may be brought into full and glorious unity with God, and may we one day also be with them, in the glory of heaven. Let us put our trust and faith ever in God, who is Lord of the living and the Judge of all, knowing that if we do so, death will not have its final say on us, and we will receive the fullness of our Lord’s promise of eternal life and happiness.

May all the souls of those departed in the Lord, receive the grace and love of God, rest in peace, the peace of Christ our Lord. And may we all who still walk in this world continue to walk faithfully in the way of our Lord, emulating the examples of the saints, that we all, together as one Church, Church Militant, Church Triumphant, and Church Suffering be one day be reunited fully in God’s glory when He comes again, and may we praise Him for eternity thereafter. Amen.

 

First Reading :
https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/31/sunday-2-november-2014-feast-of-all-souls-31st-sunday-of-ordinary-time-first-reading/

Psalm :
https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/31/sunday-2-november-2014-feast-of-all-souls-31st-sunday-of-ordinary-time-psalm/

Second Reading :
https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/31/sunday-2-november-2014-feast-of-all-souls-31st-sunday-of-ordinary-time-second-reading/

Gospel Reading :
https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/01/sunday-2-november-2014-feast-of-all-souls-31st-sunday-of-ordinary-time-gospel-reading/

Saturday, 25 October 2014 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)

Psalm 121 : 1-2, 3-4a, 4b-5

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” And now we have set foot within your gates, o Jerusalem!

Jerusalem, just like a city, where everything falls into place! There the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, the assembly of Israel.

To give thanks to the Lord’s Name. There stand the courts of justice, the offices of the house of David.

(Usus Antiquior) Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 19 October 2014 : Epistle

Lectio Epistolae Beati Pauli Apostoli ad Ephesios – Lesson from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians

Ephesians 4 : 23-28

Fratres : Renovamini spiritu mentis vestrae, et induite novum hominem, qui secundum Deum creatus est in justitia et sanctitate veritatis. Propter quod deponentes mendacium, loquimini veritatem unusquisque cum proximo suo : quoniam sumus invicem membra.

Irascimini, et nolite peccare : sol non occidat super iracundiam vestram. Nolite locum dare diabolo : qui furabatur, jam non furetur; magis autem laboret, operando manibus suis, quod bonum est, ut habeat, unde tribuat necessitatem patienti.

English translation

Brethren, may you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth. Wherefore, putting away lies, may you speak the truth to every man with his neighbour, for we are members to one another.

Be angry, and do not sin. Do not let the sun to go down upon your anger. Do not give place to the devil. He who stole, let him now steal no more; but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have something to give to him that all who suffered need.

Sunday, 12 October 2014 : 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Isaiah 25 : 6-10a

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. For on this mountain the hand of YHVH rests.

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.

Friday, 26 September 2014 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Ecclesiastes 3 : 1-11 (or Qoheleth 3 : 1-11)

There is a given time for everything and a time for every happening under heaven : A time for giving birth, a time for dying; a time for planting, a time for uprooting. A time for killing, a time for healing; a time for knocking down, a time for building.

A time for tears, a time for laughter; a time for mourning, a time for dancing. A time for throwing stones, a time for gathering stones; a time for embracing, a time to refrain from embracing. A time for searching, a time for losing; a time for keeping, a time for throwing away.

A time for tearing, a time for sewing; a time to be silent and a time to speak. A time for loving, a time for hating; a time for war, a time for peace. What profit is there for a man from all his toils?

Finally I considered the task God gave to the humans. He made everything fitting in its time, but He also set eternity in their hearts, although they are not able to embrace the work of God from the beginning to the end.