Sunday, 24 November 2013 : Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Christ the King (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the last great feast in our Liturgical Year, that is the great solemnity of Christ the King, or in full, of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. This is the last Sunday of our Liturgical Year, and from next Sunday onwards we will be entering into the season of Advent, in preparation for Christmas.

This is the feast, the great solemnity which marked the end of the year of our liturgy, but this year, it is even more glorious. Why so? Because on this year’s solemnity of Christ the King, we also celebrate the closing of the Year of the Faith, which Pope Benedict XVI had initiated on 12 October of last year and ran for a whole year until today. Indeed, today is a great occasion, to celebrate our faith, the faith we have in Jesus, our King and our Saviour.

Today, we glorify Jesus Christ our Lord, the divine Word of God incarnated into flesh in Jesus. He is King, and He is the Lord of all the universe, of all creation, whom He had created at the beginning of time. And yet, He chose to lower Himself, as the proof of His dedication, to those whom He had been king for. As He is the king of all creations, including all of us, we are all His people. And to show His love and dedication for us, bound to death that is our fate for sin, He came down to us, and for us, giving Himself for us that we can be saved.

Yes, Jesus although He was not obliged to help us, He still gave Himself to us, opening to us the floodgates of His mercy and love. In order to do so, He came to us, to fulfill God’s plan of salvation. And He did not do so in a manner so as to dazzle or amaze people. Instead, He came in silence, in the quiet night, that night in Bethlehem. No inn or lodging was made available for the king, and the king of kings made His entry into this world in a humble and dirty stable, fit for animals but not for men.

That is because, brothers and sisters in Christ, our Lord’s kingship is not a kingship of this world. He is the true king of all things, and His kingdom is not a kingdom of this world. That is why, if kings of this world are usually rich, privileged, and powerful, the Lord as the king of all kings is instead humble, gentle, and benevolent. He did not flaunt His power and authority, and instead He worked with complete obedience and devotion to the Lord His Father.

When Satan tempted Jesus in the desert as He fasted, he was unable to convince Him with the allures of glory, which are human glory, worldly glories, which would have tempted most if not all of us. All of these were the worldly glories that Jesus as King would have done, if He is a king of this world. He would have taken it easy, as after all, what is mankind, so sinful and rebellious that they are worth saving? Such would be the thoughts of the devil to Jesus. Yet, Jesus would have none of that and rebuked the devil.

In Jesus lies the salvation of this world, that is the redemption of all mankind. He did so by offering Himself, the perfect and unblemished lamb of sacrifice, exchanging for us our fated deaths, into the new life He had prepared for us. He paid the price in full to ransom us, a price He paid with none other than His own flesh and blood, shed from the cross as He hung above it between the heavens and the earth.

The kingship of Jesus is not for Him to enjoy being a king, and neither it is for Him to enjoy good life, as many of the kings and leaders of our world had done. The kingship of Jesus is one of service, dedication, and love, in which, He as king, is our shepherd, the leader of all in our way towards complete and perfect reunion with God. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, leads us in our way towards the Lord.

But many of us openly mocked Jesus and His kingship, often not recognising what He has done for our sake, and rejecting His offers of goodness through salvation of souls. We are indeed often like the prodigal thief crucified with Jesus, as well as the Roman soldiers and those who had crucified Him, mocking Him openly of His kingship, questioning His power and authority.

Let us all reflect, how often do we all, even in our daily actions, that we have rejected Jesus, that we have rebuked Him, and even made a mockery of Him in front of His enemies. And yet, if you all noticed, He did not care. After all, He is the Lord and King of all creations, of all things that were, that are, and that will ever be. He is omnipotent beyond any imagination, and He could just destroy us with a single thought, and yet He did not do that.

He cared for us and loved us, to the point of coming down for us. Remember what Jesus told us about the parable of the shepherd. How a good shepherd will leave his good flock and go out all the way in search of the one that is lost. That was precisely what Jesus had done, our Good Shepherd. He went all the way to save us, the lost ones, that we can be reunited again with the flock of Christ, destined for eternal salvation.

Such a good king we have, don’t you all think? Yes, that is Christ our Lord and King, a king who does not just demand obedience and service from his subjects, but instead as a king who serves and loves his people. But many of us refuse to acknowledge His kingship and reject Him, just as His own people rejected Him as He hung on the cross to save them.

Whenever we sin and commit things against the laws of God, and in violation of the Lord’s love for us, we refuse to admit the kingship of Jesus our Lord. Whenever we sin and commit things evil in the eyes of God and refuse to admit them and change from our sinful ways, we act in the same way as the unrepentant thief, who mocked Jesus for His kingship.

Instead, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us be like the repentant thief. Let us be like him in that he openly acknowledged not only that Jesus is truly king and Lord, but also that he reveals and admits the depth of his own sin and his unworthiness before the same king, asking in deep humility and shame for forgiveness by the Lord.

And he was forgiven, and given a place in heaven, literally being the first one that Jesus saved through His death and resurrection. We too can follow in the repentant thief’s footsteps, provided that we realise and reflect on the depth of our own sinfulness, and resolve that from now on, we will change our attitude and truly accept the Lord our God as our Lord and Saviour.

So today, as we also celebrate together, the end of the holy Year of the Faith, as well as the great solemnity of Christ the King, let us together with the entire Church, all the same children of God, renew our profession of faith before our Lord and King, taking our vows that we will, from now on, live an upright and righteous life, in accordance with the will of God, and open ourselves to His infinite love.

Let us proclaim that Jesus is the king of all kings, our king and our Saviour. And let us also usher in this era of mercy and love. Surrender ourselves to the Lord’s mercy and love as the repentant sinner had done, and keep our faith strong and burning in God! God bless us all with His Son, Jesus, our King. Amen.

Friday, 14 June 2013 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened again to the words of the Scripture, in which Christ told His disciples that they should keep themselves pure in all things, so that they will not fall into sin. Brethren, sin is our weakness, and our body is our weakness, ever since Adam and Eve our ancestors disobeyed the Lord and ate from the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Ever since humankind was exposed to that knowledge of things good and evil, we have been prone to the corruption of sin, particularly in our body, through our being, our minds, and our hearts. Mankind has done things evil in the eyes of the Lord ever since the day of our rebellion, until God once had wanted to destroy all but Noah in the Great Flood, such great was the extent of our forefather’s sins.

God loves us very much, brothers and sisters, for all of us are His children, His most beloved children, the greatest and most precious to Him of all creation, so much that He had entrusted this world to our care, that we become its stewards. But as much as our God is a loving God, He is also a jealous and a just God, and He cannot let sin stand in His presence, because He is good and perfect, and no sinner can stand worthy in front of Him in heaven. That was why He sent His only Son, that through Him salvation of mankind may happen, and those who repent and believe in Him, may become worthy of Him once again.

Brothers and sisters, Christ did not mean that we should literally cut off our appendages and our limbs because it caused us to sin. Yes, without these limbs indeed we cannot do what is bad, and therefore can sin no longer, but what Christ truly meant was that we should cut us off from sin itself, from all attachments to sin, especially from our hearts. If our hearts is pure, our hands and legs, and our mouths and eyes will not ever cause us to sin.

In addition, yes, indeed, if we cut away these limbs, we cannot do what is evil, but then it will also similarly hinder us from doing what is good, because certainly our limbs can be used for either good or evil. It is entirely within our choice whether we want to use it for good or for evil. It is also to note that no sinner is beyond redemption, and even the greatest of sinners, were he or she to repent, he or she can become the greatest of saints if God so desires of them.

Yes, brethren, there are hope for sinners. All of us are sinners, and even the greatest of the saints, who were also sinners. But what differentiates the saints from the condemned are that those who were condemned did not turn away from their sins and their vices, and continued to do things abhorrent in the eyes of the Lord. That was why they were thrown into hell, all and whole, because their heart and their bodies remained in darkness.

But saints did not remain in darkness. Yes, they had much faults and past sins, but all these drove them to approach the throne of God for mercy. Full in knowledge of their iniquity and unworthiness, they surrendered themselves to God and opened themselves to His love and mercy. They did not elevate themselves nor did they become arrogant and haughty, one of our greatest weaknesses that is pride. They lowered themselves and repented truly in their hearts, and a new light was born in them, and consequently, they were purified and made whole and worthy once again before the Lord. The Lord is pleased with them, and joyfully welcomed them back, like a father welcoming a long-lost prodigal son.

Our hearts are important, brothers and sisters in Christ, because within our hearts lie the Holy Spirit that dwells within us, and it is the most important part of our beings. If our hearts are pure, and we keep the Holy Spirit strong within us, and with a powerful anchor of faith in God, we will be able to resist any temptations of the devil and the world’s evils. It is within our hearts that lies the key to defeating evil and keeping strong the faith we have in God.

That was why Christ told His disciples and the people who were with Him that even if they had already had evil thoughts with the opposite sex, they had already committed adultery, even though they had not actually done the deed itself. That is because our hearts are the start of everything, whether things good or evil, is ultimately decided by the state of our hearts. If our hearts are evil and filthy with sin, we will definitely be more inclined to do things that displease the Lord, and vice versa, that we will be more predisposed to do things that please the Lord if we keep our hearts pure and filled with light.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us not fear evil, but face it with courage and faith. Let the Holy Spirit come and dwell within all of us, and keep ourselves firmly anchored in God, and in our faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord. That the Spirit will become the Treasure that St. Paul mentioned in the first reading today, encased within our unworthy bodies, but when unveiled through our actions and our words, the Spirit will proclaim the glory of God, for all to see, that they too may believe and repent! Amen.

Monday, 27 May 2013 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (First Reading)

Sirach 17 : 20-28

Their misdeeds cannot be hidden from Him, all their sins are before the Lord. He holds a man’s almsgiving dear as a priceless signet ring; He cherishes a good deed like the apple of His eye.

One day He will rise and reward them; He will place their prize on their heads. He allows those who repent to return; He comforts those whose hopes are fading.

Be converted to the Lord and give up your sins, plead with Him to lessen your offense. Return to the Almighty, turn aside from wrongdoing and totally detest evil.

For who in the grave will praise the Almighty, if the living do not give Him glory? The dead man is as if he did not exist and cannot give praise; He who has life and health can praise the Lord.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013 : Ash Wednesday (First Reading)

Joel 2 : 12-18

YHVH says, “Yet even now, return to Me with your whole heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Rend your heart, not your garment. Return to YHVH, your God – gracious and compassionate.”

YHVH is slow to anger, full of kindness, and He repents of having punished. Who knows? Probably He will relent once more and spare some part of the harvest from which we may bring sacred offerings to YHVH, your God.

Blow the trumpet in Zion, proclaim a sacred fast, call a solemn assembly. Gather the people, sanctify the community, bring together the elders, even the children and infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his bed, and the bride her room.

Between the vestibule and the altar, let the priests, YHVH’s ministers, weep and say : “Spare your people, YHVH. Do not humble them or make them an object of scorn among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples : Where is their God?

YHVH has become jealous for His land; He has had pity on His people.