Saturday, 15 November 2014 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard in the Gospel the parable mentioned by Jesus on an evil and proud judge, and a persistent old woman who continued to pester that particular judge to stand up for her case. And that judge, even though he did not fear God nor man, and did not listen or submit to anyone, eventually gave in to the old woman who continued to pester him and plead with him to advance her case.

This parable is a clear message to all of us, that we cannot be complacent in our faith. Besides that we need to act with concrete and genuine love, and live our faith fully through our deeds and actions, we also have to have a good and healthy prayer life. Prayer is for us a connection and a highway that links us to our Lord. It is a two-way conversation between Him and us, through which we can listen to Him and He too can listen to us speaking directly towards Him.

What our Lord Jesus mentioned to us today in the parable is that, if that evil judge, despicable, wicked and irresponsible as he was, not fearing God nor men, could eventually succumb to the pressures of the old woman, just so that she would no longer pester him, how much more will our loving God then harken and listen to our prayers and petitions?

However, be reminded, brothers and sisters, that our prayers and petitions do not equate with what demands we have in this life, and they do not equate with our desires and wants, that means, these do not include our desires for many things, from material wealth to other things. God is loving and He will listen to us, but He also knows our needs and our greatest details till the greatest secrets we keep in the depths of our hearts.

Therefore, our Lord is not held hostage to our wishes and demands, and He is not obliged to fulfill all of our wishes, and neither is He subordinate to us and our will. And He does what seems to fit His will. But this does not mean that He is a heartless God who does not care about us, as if we are in genuine need, He will know it, and He will want to help us.

On our part therefore, we have to act like the old woman who persistently pursued the evil judge in order to have her wishes fulfilled. But did she ask for her own selfish wish? No, it is so that she can have justice shown to her, for she had been wronged. It is the same therefore for all or us, that we have to take out two things from this day’s Scripture readings.

First, we have to persist in our prayers, to pray without cease, on regular basis, constantly contacting and talking with the Lord our God, like the old woman pestering the evil judge for his attention and help. But the difference is that, if the evil judge hated the woman’s persistence and pleas, our Lord who is loving and kind to us, will never be tired of listening to our constant pleas and prayers. Instead, He will listen to them and then act as it is right according to Him and His own will for us.

And then second, all of us must realise that God loves us all and He wants us to be righteous and just in all things. He wants us to have love and faith in ourselves, so that in all of our actions we will no longer put forward our desires or greed, but instead to submit to the greater will of the Lord. And therefore, in that, in our prayer life too, we have to realise that our prayers are not merely just list of petitions and demands against the Lord.

Prayer is all about keeping in contact with our Lord, from heart to heart, an intimate and personal relationship we must have and nourish between us and our God. In prayer, we should air our concerns and wishes, but at the same time, we must also open our ears wide in order to be able to listen to the word of God which He spoke softly deep in our hearts.

Therefore, we ought to learn to listen and to listen well, so that our hearts be cleared from all forms of hubris and pride, of desire and greed that we may truly be transformed from creatures of sin and darkness, into the children of the light, of our Lord who is Love. This is what we need to do, and there is today a saint, whose feast day we celebrate this day, and whose life examples may be an inspiration to all of us.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Albert of Cologne, also more famously known by his epithet ‘the Great’ as St. Albertus Magnus or St. Albert the Great. He was a Dominican friar and then bishop in the High Middle Ages era Germany, who was renowned particularly for his faith, for his zeal, for his numerous works and writings, as well as for his great contributions to the growth of the spiritual aspect in many of the faithful, both whom he directly and indirectly touched.

St. Albert the Great is honoured with the title of the Doctor of the Church, to be among the few so honoured as such. His works in both philosophy and theology were of great importance to the Church and to the faithful. His dedication to the advancement of the Lord’s teaching and cause was truly remarkable and commendable, and he was also devoted to helping the people of God, both through his works and through his writings.

Through the examples of St. Albert the Great, we can see how if we devoted ourselves in deep prayer and develop our spirituality in the way of St. Albert the Great, we can truly be like him. St. Albert the Great spent much of his time in prayer and devotion to God, and through that devotion, he produced many good works that benefit not just himself, but countless others around him.

And in the first reading, St. John the Apostle and Evangelist advised us all how we should live out our lives, to be righteous and just before God, by loving one another sincerely and genuinely, and most especially, to show our love and care to our brothers and sisters around us, who needs our love the most. Thus these are the two pillars of our faith, namely our loving actions to one another, and our strong and devoted prayer life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us therefore from now on, renew our commitment to the Lord and ask for the intercession of St. Albert the Great, that our faith too may be strengthened by God just as his was strengthened. May we all grow stronger and more devoted in our prayer life, so that we may not be lost but remain in close and intimate contact with the Lord our loving God, at all the moments of our lives. God bless us all. Amen.


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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.

Saturday, 19 July 2014 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

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

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear how in Jesus Christ, the long awaited Saviour of this world had finally come into it, and through Him, we received great graces and blessings. But at the same time, through the Holy Scriptures, we also heard how the opposition against the Lord did not remain silent, but rather this opposition grow in strength and threatened to strike againsf God and all those who followed Him.

Jesus was not welcomed by the Pharisees, the Scribes, and the elites and leaders in the Jewish society. He was constantly followed, hounded, and harassed by them, and in all the things that He did, they tirelessly tried to find something to fault Him against and to accuse Him in front of the people although they failed to do so, no matter what they had done.

The happenings in the Gospel of today is a clear link to the prophecy of the prophet Micah, who mentioned how the wicked and those who walked on the path of evil would lay evil plans and plotted against the faithful, seeking the destruction of the righteous and the good, for their own benefits in selfishness and greed. They cared not for the innocent in obtaining their goals, and would stop at nothing for their own gain.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that was why our Lord was angry at those who are in this world, who attached themselves to the corrupted ways of this world, and to all the corruptions of sins and worldly attachments that kept them away from God. To those who continue to refuse to listen to Him, and those who continuously rebel against His will, there will be no mercy and no quarter given when the time comes for God to announce His judgments to all.

But for those who listen to Him, and those who repent from their sinfulness, God will show His rich mercy and love, baring open His loving heart for all to see. And He had made it plain in sight for all through the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ His Son, which sadly many people simply failed to realise and notice how much love God showed them, and how much He cared for them.

So much love God had shown us indeed, that He was truly willing to come personally to deal with our issue. Yes, we truly had an issue, that is an issue with sin and wickedness on our parts, and that of our constant disobedience and ignorance of God’s laws and precepts. And Jesus came into this world to open our eyes, open our ears, and make us see and hear the truth about God and His love for us, and so that we may emerge from the darkness that engulfed our souls.

God came into this world in Jesus, not to punish or destroy us. It was never in His intention to condemn us to death or eternal damnation in hell. It was truly our own actions and our own constant disobedience which has cast us body and soul into hellfire. God does not wish our destruction but rather our salvation and our reunion with Him in grace and love. He wants us to be totally changed and transformed from our ways of old and into a new way based on true faith and true love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we all recognise the love of God, and resolve to love Him back too? Shall we be truly children of God who walk in the same way as our Father in heaven? If we are truly beloved children of God, then let us all follow Him with all of our hearts, without hesitation, and continue to do the will of God just as how Jesus taught us through His disciples.

May Almighty God strengthen the faith in us, the hope in us, and the love in us, so that we may be saved just as He had intended for us, and therefore be reunited in perfect love with Him and never be separated again. Let us rebuke and reject the devil in all totality. Never doubt God’s love again, brethren! Amen.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are called to cast away wickedness and sin from our lives. We have to get rid of pride, sloth, greed and all the other evil emotions from our hearts and minds. We must not follow the wickedness of King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, whose sins had brought the rest of the people of God into sin as well.

Today’s catechesis and readings are continuation from that of yesterday, when we discuss about the law of vengeance or do ut des, and the sin of Ahab in arranging for the death of Naboth in order to gain possession of the vineyard for himself. The wickedness of Ahab and his family is truly an important case for us to learn from, that we should not walk the same path as they have walked.

Jesus taught His disciples today the true meaning and purpose of the Law of God, which is indeed love. Love is at the heart of the Law, and God did indeed intend for the Law to help His people to love each other. But mankind had often forgotten this fundamental truth and they grew distant from God’s love. We also failed to realise the need for love, especially genuine love.

What is genuine love? It is when we can love in the way that Jesus had described in the Gospel today. Yes, to be able to love those who hated us, those who considered us their enemies, and those who despised us, without feeling hatred at them, and being able to forgive them, and indeed forgive one another, which are the essences of a true, pure and noble love.

It is indeed easy to love just those who love us and cared for us, and it is also indeed easy, in fact even easier, for us to hate those who hated us and disliked us. The challenge is for us to love and forgive those who considered us as their enemies and hated us, and how we continue to show that love amidst the repeated hostility and enmity.

If we are able to do this, then we have been truly great in the eyes of God. Yes, that is because if we do this, we overcome the temptations of evil and not only just that, as we will also open the door towards the light of Christ that the light may enter into the hearts of men, especially those who hated and disliked us, and it is hoped that they may see the truth and repent, and change their ways for the better.

Yes, brethren, we can even become role models for those who were in darkness through our own actions. This is why it is so important for us to implement and do what the Lord told us, and not merely paying lip service to our faith. We have to have a living and strong faith, based in love. It is from this love, that our faith will eventually blossom and prosper.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to love one another, and love tenderly. We are also called to throw away our old lives, to cleanse ourselves from the leaven of hatred and jealousy, so that we may truly be loving and faithful servants of our Lord, as those who are truly faithful and obedient to the will of God who is love. Let us do our best, to hate no more, and to forgive others who had brought much pain unto us.

Let us be faithful, be loving and help one another to seek God, our Lord and Father through love. God bless us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 5 : 13-16

You are the salt of the earth. But if salt has lost its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It has become useless. It can only be thrown away and people will trample on it.

You are the light of the world. A city built on a mountain cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and covers it; instead it is put on a lampstand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before others, so that they may see the good you do and praise your Father in heaven.

Monday, 9 June 2014 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor of the Church (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today in the readings, we heard the famous Beatitudes or meaning, Blesseds, which is also known as the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus to the people. In that discourse and teaching, Jesus showed the people how people who do the will of God are blessed by Him for obeying His will. Through the Beatitudes, Jesus encouraged us all to carry out what we should be doing, to be truly blessed in the presence of God.

The Beatitudes showed us the criteria and the expectations that God kind of requires from His children, as they all embody the nature of God, that is love and mercy. However, in this world today we have often forgotten these things and be preoccupied by much concerns for the world and many other factors, that we fail to carry out what the Lord wants from us, as He laid them out in the Beatitudes.

For example, the Beatitudes blesses those who seeks peace and are peacemakers, and yet our world today is filled with hatred and violence, where brothers can fight against brothers, sisters fight against sisters, and quarrels are frequent among ourselves, which truly does not represent the peacemakers that we are supposed to be.

We too often find it difficult to show mercy to others and to forgive others for the mistakes, the wrongs, injustices and any other negative actions that they had done unto us. Indeed the Beatitudes blesses those who are merciful, but how many of us give mercy voluntarily to those who have hurt us? How many of us can genuinely forgive those who had wronged us? It is not easy, and it is in our human nature to seek vengeance and retribution rather than being merciful.

We often become judgmental of others, and we thought of ourselves as being the best, often in the disadvantage of others, that we get further and further from fulfilling the words of Christ in the Beatitudes. All these are because of our bad habits, tendencies and vulnerabilities in dealing with others and in our natural vulnerability to sin and evil.

Today we celebrate the feast of a saint, whose life has been dedicated to do the will of God, and in committing all that God has mentioned through the Beatitudes in his life. Today we commemorate St. Ephrem, also known as Ephrem the Syrian, who was a great inspiration source of many faithful during his lifetime, and a very faithful and hardworking servant of the Church and the people of God through his various ministries and roles in the Church.

St. Ephrem served the people of God dutifully and faithfully, and most importantly, he was very dedicated to the Lord, like the ones poor in spirit, as he sought the Lord for guidance. He received great graces and blessings, just as the Lord had pointed out in the Beatitudes. He also acted as mediator and communicator between many peoples, and between different ideas, providing important mediation between them and therefore promote unity and peace among the faithful.

As such, he was truly blessed by God, and he was made worthy of heaven, and recognised as such by the Church, in addition to the recognition of the vast amounts of work that he has done. He is our inspiration, and he should be our role model, someone who we aim to become, and perhaps even more, practising what the Lord Himself had recommended, as He stated in the Beatitudes.

Let us all ask for the intercession of St. Ephrem, that in our lives, we will always strive to become a good and responsible person, one who fear God, and yet love Him and who carry out His works dutifully. Let us all be like the persons whom the Lord described in the Beatitudes, beginning with small things, and gradually do all that the Lord asks of us.

May God remain with us, and through the intercession of His saints, let us all continue to profess and renew our faith, that we may truly be blessed by God, and be worthy of Him at the end of all times. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 31 May 2014 : Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the roughly three months period after the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus our Lord was visited by the Archangel Gabriel, when she conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Today’s feast of the visitation to Elizabeth by Mary and its relative date is based on the Gospels, through which we know that at the third month since the annunciation, the Blessed Virgin Mary visited her cousin, Elizabeth who was then heavily pregnant with John the Baptist.

Mary is the culmination of the Lord’s long-planned plan for the salvation of all mankind, God’s beloved creations, and it is through her, that the Lord exercised His power and made available a new hope for all of us, through Jesus, the Son of God, and also Son of Man through Mary His mother, the fulfillment and perfection of the Law and the prophecies of the prophets about the Lord and Messiah who would come to save His people.

Remember in the Book of Genesis, early in the history of Creation when God created mankind and they disobeyed Him by listening to Satan instead of Him? God did not destroy mankind nor did He abandon them entirely even though they had been unfaithful. God foretold the coming of salvation which would come through the descendant of men, and also foretold is that while Satan the snake would latch to the feet of the sons and daughters of man, the woman would crush Satan the snake under her feet.

This woman is Mary, the mother of Jesus our Lord. Through her the salvation of all men came forth, and with her obedience and complete surrender to the will of God, mankind was saved. Satan had indeed had a great dominion and mastery over mankind for a very long time, and he reigned over fallen mankind with absolute tyranny and impunity. But in Mary, he knew that he would meet his end, and there he would be defeated in a total finality. Thus he feared Mary.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Elizabeth and the baby inside her, St. John the Baptist knew this truth about Mary and the Son inside her, Jesus, the Son of God Most High. Elizabeth and John the Baptist were the ones who had been appointed and chosen by God to be the harbinger and the proclaimer of the Lord’s coming into the world as its Saviour.

If John the Baptist paved the way for Christ and introduced Him to the world, then Elizabeth his mother, as we heard in today’s reading, was the first to proclaim Mary the mother of our Lord, as well as Jesus her Son, to the world. Nevertheless, sadly, just as the people, in particular the Pharisees and the elders disregarded the call of John the Baptist to repentance and to welcome the Lord, nobody regarded Mary the mother of our Lord at that time either.

Such was indeed the situation and the simplicity with which our Lord came into the world. The elders and the Pharisees by their human wisdom and limited understanding failed to understand that the Messiah when He came would not be some sort of an all-conquering Lord who would judge all and bring glory to Israel. These people were looking at nothing sort of a miraculous appearance of a King who would liberate them from the Romans, but they missed entirely the gist of the plan of salvation.

For in the Lord, salvation means as we know it, the complete giving and surrender of Himself and His divinity to come down to us as a humble Man, born of Mary the virgin, the woman whom the Lord had promised to be the one to bear salvation for mankind from the hands and dominion of Satan. And Satan realise that with her, his days in power was numbered, and his doom was waiting for him.

We all, therefore, should rejoice just as Mary had rejoiced, filled with the Holy Spirit, in her song, which we now know as the Magnificat, a song filled with pure joy and praise for God who had made all things happen. And for Mary, and for us, there is no greater reason to celebrate than because of all these, we have been granted a new hope, a new light that pierced away the darkness that used to fill our hearts and our world, giving us a fighting chance to gain everlasting happiness in God.

Let us all renew our commitment to God, rejoice in Him who had come upon this world and saved it through His death. God is kind and loving, and He has shown His favour upon us. We need to return His love and kindness, brethren, that we will all remain in God’s grace and be worthy of the salvation which He had made available for us.

Let us also pray and ask for His beloved mother Mary, to intercede for us and help us that we too may be like her in the obedience and dedication that she had shown. Let us be dedicated in our faith and no longer be complacent in our lives. May God show His mercy and grace to us, and keep us always in His love. Amen.