Monday, 26 May 2014 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Philip Neri, Priest (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, following the Lord means to have a profound and complete conversion of ourselves, in particular that of our hearts and minds, so that we reflect the will of God and be true children and servants of our God. The God-fearing woman from the first reading, who listened to the word of God through the Apostles and chose to give her all to God and commit herself to Him, is an example for all of us.

Through baptism she had been saved and granted great grace from God, and so we too have been saved through our baptism, and our faith. But this must be living, a living faith, as I have often mentioned. Yes, in continuation of yesterday’h catechesis, this faith must be a growing faith and inspired by the Holy Spirit. We must be fruitful, bearing the fruits of the Holy Spirit with all of our actions.

Today we honour and celebrate a saint, whose life can be a great inspiration to all of us in following the Lord and in committing our lives in the service of God and our fellow men. St. Phillip Neri is this saint, a holy man and a dedicated servant of God who lived in Italy a few centuries ago, during the era of the Renaissance. St. Philip Neri took part in the great campaign and push to rediscover the passion and energy in the faith, and establish stronger faith in the people of God through his works.

St. Philip Neri worked hard for the sake of the faithful and the people of God, giving himself to a life of service, and he helped to build up a congregation of the faithful and secular peoples, to serve the Lord better, as well as to reform the Church which at that time was notorious for its worldly corruptions and wicked ways. St. Philip Neri was essential for the rejuvenation of the faith following the horrendous and disastrous so-called Protestant Reformation, which is a terrible heresy of the faith.

St. Philip Neri was utterly dedicated to his cause, and he tirelessly worked to refocus the people’s attention towards Christ, and to throw away the excesses of life which had characterised the faithful, the Church, and the society in general at that time, when material wealth and possessions became a symbol of status, privilege and discrimination between peoples, which should not have happened as we are all truly equal before the Lord.

We too have to follow in his footsteps, in keeping pure our hearts and minds, away from the corruptions of this world, that we would not walk in error or in the darkness, and risk falling into the trap the devil had set on our path. We always have to be ready and vigilant that we keep ourselves aware and alert against all these lies of the devil. Let us remain faithful to God.

Since our baptism, we have been marked and sealed with the Most Holy Name of the Holy Trinity, and we have been made children of God, and cleansed of our past injustices and past unworthiness, being made into children of the light. Our spirit therefore, had been strengthened, and is strong. But remember what Christ said at the Garden in Gethsemane just before, that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak? Yes, our flesh is weak, and our bodies and physical self are always tempted on daily basis by the devil, and we must be ever ready.

Let us all be profoundly changed in our ways of life, that in all things we may now be affirmed in the Lord and in His grace, that we may always be blessed and worthy, and when He comes again at the end of time, He may see us and find us truly worthy children of His, and reunite us with Himself. God bless us all, and be with us always. Amen.

Friday, 7 March 2014 : Friday after Ash Wednesday, Memorial of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 50 : 3-4, 5-6a, 18-19

Have mercy on me, o God, in Your love. In Your great compassion blot out my sin. Wash me thoroughly of my guilt; cleanse me of evil.

For I acknowledge my wrongdoings and have my sins ever in mind. Against you alone have I sinned.

You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, You would not delight in it. O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart You will not despise.

Monday, 8 April 2013 : Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Today we commemorate the day when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, the Mother of God, and announced to her, the great news of joy, that the Lord had finally made true His promises, that He would come and then save the people of Israel and all mankind. It is through Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born through Mary, His mother, that the salvation of the world came into fruition, the culmination of God’s long-conceived plan since the day of our fall into sin and death.

That day was indeed a glorious day, because the angel announced the arrival of the Messiah, who was to be none other than Son of God Himself, Jesus, born into man, incarnate from His divinity and took up the mortal man’s body though without sin. But the greater is the joy and glory because of what Mary did on that day, for her faith and obedience to the Lord was so great and perfect, that through her humble acceptance of that great mission to bear Christ in herself, and through her humility, that the salvation of the world and all mankind was possible.

Without Mary’s full obedience and acceptance of her mission in delivering Christ into this world, the coming of the Messiah would not have happened. It is her attitude towards the vocation that God had placed in her, which earned her our praise and adoration, the first and greatest of all the saints in heaven, and none other than the mother of our Lord Himself, to whom our Lord would listen, just as at the wedding in Cana.

We all had deserved death since the beginning of time, since when our ancestors, from the time of Adam, succumbed to the temptations and the lies of the evil one, preferring worldly pleasures to God and His love, rebelling against His great kindness. Through this act of treason, we deserved death, but yet, our God, with His great love for us, was keen to show us His mercy, and throughout time, through countless prophets, He had made His intentions clear for all to see and listen, that He would send a deliverer, the Messiah, who would correct all things once again, and made the world into a perfection once again, cleansed from all the taints of evil.

So great was God’s love that He gave us His only Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, that through Him, all of mankind and all creation have hope of a new life, an eternal life with God, and no longer be separated from the very God who loves us very much. To make all these possible, Christ would have to lower Himself, to be as men are, but unblemished, without the taints of sin. Pure as crystal and white as snow, and that is who Christ was. Because He was to give Himself up, not as mere burnt or sin offering and sacrifices, but as the true Lamb of God, our paschal lamb of sacrifice, whose purity and unblemished nature was the only one in all creation worthy of redeeming all of us from our unavoidable fate, that is death.

While the blood of goats and bulls was only able to cleanse sin temporarily, and that people would still die after those offerings, those cleansed by the Precious Blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ would no longer experience death, that is eternal death. For through the offering of His Body and Blood, Christ had given each of us a new lease of life, a life that is filled with the glory and love of God. In baptism, that we received, either as a baby or as an adult, we received this new life. We were dead to our old life, and we shared in this death, the death of Christ on the cross, that we die to ourselves and our sins, and with the Risen Lord, we too are resurrected to begin a new life in God.

It is not easy to obey God’s commandment and will, especially in the case of what God had entrusted to Mary, and to no other person. For Mary was born without sin as well, immaculate, just as her Son is, because, to be the vessel through whom God would be incarnate as Man into this world, no vessel that is tainted with sin would be worthy. Mary’s obedience made her role in our faith ever greater, since her obedience became a great role model to all of us. She obeyed despite the difficulties, and the implications of her acceptance would have on her.

Remember that what happened after Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant. He wanted to divorce her, though with honour, so that she would not be treated as an adulterous woman, since she was a virgin, and yet with child. This was the implication that would happen to Mary, all the difficulties she had to endure, by accepting the will of God, to bear Christ in herself, that through her holy womb, Christ was brought forth as Jesus, her Son. Yet she obeyed without conditions, and submitted fully to the will of God, gladly embracing the role that she is to play in the history of salvation.

As we commemorate this great event, let us reflect this fact, and whether we too can be as courageous, faithful, and obedient as Mary was, in bravely and gladly answering the call of God, that all the great works of our Saviour would be possible. Can we begin today, to strive to be more like her, and to follow her example? We may not have to bear Christ and give birth to Him like Mary did, but in our own surroundings and in our own lives, we have our own missions and callings by God, and the things God had entrusted upon us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today, let us pray, that we would be able to follow after the example of Mary, the Mother of God, that we can also say yes, to our Lord, and accept His will, and the mission He had entrusted upon all of us with great humility and great joy. May God bless all of us, and make our faith stronger, that we will always live in the favour of God, filled with His love. Amen.