Saturday, 18 January 2014 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

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

Today brethren, we heard about how God had chosen Saul, from the tribe of Benjamin, to be the king over His people Israel, and how He instructed Samuel, His prophet and servant, to deliver His will to Saul and later on, to let it be known to the people.

He anointed Saul through His servant Samuel, that Saul be filled with His own Spirit bearing power and authority, that He be granted wisdom and power, which came from God, to lead the people of God through righteous life and obedience to the Lord, and make sure that the people of God faithfully keep the laws and commandments of God without turning from them or abandoning them.

But sadly, Saul, and many other kings of Israel did not remain faithful to God, and followed their own ways and desires, in ruling the people, misusing the power given to them and the authority entrusted to them. They became tyrants and abusers of power, serving their own needs and desires instead of serving the people of God.

The people of Israel were eventually lost and were scattered all over the world, after their kingdoms of Israel and Judah were destroyed by their enemies. They went into exile, and only a portion would eventually return to their Promised Land, and began anew, trying to once again obey the will of God and not walk the path of sinfulness as their ancestors had under the rule of the corrupt kings.

God resolved to show His infinite love for His people and for all mankind, the most beloved of all His creations, by sending to us His ultimate form of love, that is, Jesus Christ, His own Son, the Logos, the Word of God, who was made man, by the power of God, and born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus, as Lord, is the true King of all, for God is the true King over all creations, the Lord and King over all the universe. From God all authority and power comes.

But Jesus showed all of us, that true kingship is not one based on the abuse of power or tyranny. Even though He was Lord of all and King of all kings, and have all the power and authority He needed, He never showed them off or used them to push things to His advantage. The kingship of Jesus is one of true service for His people, to care and love them very, very much, so much that He even was willing to lay down His own life for them.

He also came to seek the lost and the ones without hope. He came to bring light to those who live in the darkness, especially those who were deeper and even deeper in darkness. That was why, when He came, He sought those who were sinful and considered the troubles of the society, the hated enemies of the people. Yes, people such as tax collectors, prostitutes, and those possessed by illnesses and the evil spirits.

Jesus came to bring them to the comfort of the light of God, and to show that they too deserve redemption, even more so because they were so deep in the risk of damnation. He also made the point that these people were truly capable of great deeds and great piety, even more than those who outwardly showed brilliant faith, but inside were not as brilliant as they seemed to be.

That was why, He as the King who has authority over us, and who is like a father to all of us, came to correct things as well as perceptions of the society, that we should not judge others based on their appearance or their deeds in the past. Yes, the likes of Saul, who was very tall and handsome, who seemed like the perfect choice for a regal king, and yet failed miserably, and the likes of the Pharisees, who outwardly showed faith in God but in their hearts there were no love for God, but only for themselves.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are called by our King, our Lord Jesus Christ, to be the beacons of light shining the way for those who have been lost in the darkness of this world. Let us imitate Jesus and seek out those who have been condemned and villified by the society, those ostracised and hated. Let us not hate or be prejudiced against them, but instead embracing them, that we show to them the love of God, that they too may believe and therefore be saved together with us.

May the Lord put in our hearts, the courage to embrace the least of our brothers and sisters, especially those who are looked down upon by the society, and those who are unloved and rejected. May God be with all of us, that together, we may help one another to find a way to seek the light, our King, the One and only True King, Jesus Christ our Lord and God! Amen.

Sunday, 12 January 2014 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate a great feast of the Church, commemorating the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ at the Jordan river by St. John the Baptist. This baptism marked the beginning of the ministry of our Lord Jesus, after thirty years of His life in this world since He was born.

A detail on the early life of Jesus besides His birth, presentation at the Temple and the time when He was left behind in the Temple at twelve was scarce and absent, but it was likely that He lived normally as any man would, under the care of His loving family, Mary His mother and Joseph, His foster-father. He would have lived normally as any sons of a carpenter would live, learning and understanding the world from Joseph, His foster-father.

Jesus came to the Jordan to be baptised by John because it had been prophesied as such by the prophets, and it therefore the very first instance when Christ the Saviour was revealed to the world, the very first instance when many could see and hear the witness of God’s sign of salvation. The truth about God and His saving plan was made clear at that moment when Jesus was baptised.

God made His Son, Jesus Christ to be the Christ or the Messiah, or the Saviour of the world. That was because it was only in Christ that the world could be freed from the chains of sin and evil that had enslaves it since the time when sin first entered the world. And all those who believe in Him would receive the great reward of salvation.

In that event too, God made obvious His nature for the world to see. First, that He is the one and only true God as opposed to all other false gods. He is the one and only supreme Lord and King of all, as the One who created this universe and everything in it, including all of us. But in this Oneness and unity, He has three Divine persons, all coexisting with each other in perfect unity, Three distinct persona, but One in nature and in perfect and indivisible unity.

Yes, what was shown in the event of the baptism of Jesus was what we know as the doctrine of the Most Holy Trinity. God that is One and yet has Three distinct persona of Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. All of them are God, and One. The Father is the aspect of God as the Creator and the Omnipotent ruler and Lord of all things, while the Son, who was the Word of God made flesh, is the One who made things come to be, including the creation as well as the plan of salvation. The Holy Spirit is the force and power behind all things and all creation, as well as the life that God has given us.

The Father is not seen or visible to us, as He was portrayed in the Old Testament as a burning bush to Moses, or as a gentle wind to Elijah. It was often His voice that was heard, speaking His will to the prophets or directly to the people of God. Meanwhile, the Son who was the Word of God since the beginning of time and before that, was made known to us, in the person of Jesus Christ, incarnate as a Man, to become the Saviour of the world.

The Holy Spirit was also not directly seen like the Father, but is often portrayed as the flames of fire symbolising the flames of the Spirit of God, just as what happened in Pentecost, as well as a dove, which is the form that the Spirit took when Jesus was baptised at the Jordan. Thus, the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, recalling the baptism of Jesus at the Jordan.

How is this important to us? That is because when we were baptised, we were immersed with the water of baptism much like Jesus as He was immersed in the waters of the River Jordan. And not only that, to show that our baptism is not symbolic, but instead a Sacrament, we were all sealed in the Most Holy Name of the Holy Trinity, to be the possessions of the Lord, and marked for His saving grace, which He had revealed to the world through Jesus.

Jesus Christ was unique among every beings that had ever been in creation and in this universe. That is because He is one Being with two distinct natures, one that is fully divine and the other that is fully human, the two natures of which are united much in the same way the Holy Trinity is united to each other, perfectly united in love and indivisible from one another.

The divine nature of Christ is the One who had existed before all ages with God and was God, the Logos or the Word of God, who came down into the world, and with the will of the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit, was conceived into the world in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother, and that was the time, when His human nature, that is Jesus Christ, becomes extant.

The two natures had always existed together in Jesus, but as He grew as a baby and then as a young child, the complete truth about His appointed mission in this world was not revealed to Jesus. Nevertheless, He grew to be great with wisdom and knowledge as He aged, and whatever had been taught to Him by His family in this world. It was however at His baptism in the Jordan, when the Trinity once again come together, in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that the fullness of the divine mission of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, was made completely clear.

Hence, it can be said that this is the moment of new beginning in the earthly life of Christ. He began His ministry and teaching the Good News for the next three years or so, gathering His disciples and performing miracles and healing for the glory of God. It marked the beginning of the period of great graces of God, just as it does for all of us.

When we were baptised, we were marked to be the possessions of the Lord, that the mark of the Lord will remain for us for the rest of our lives. We were made completely clean once again, without any taints of sin with the water of baptism, and most important of all, we are all made children of God upon our baptism. But then we cannot just be idle or engage again in sinfulness, as we were indeed made clean upon baptism, but there also began our journey of faith towards the ultimate salvation in God, just as Jesus embarked upon His ministry.

May the Lord our God remind us of our holy baptism, of the time when we were made His children and welcomed into the Church, today, when we celebrate the baptism of His Son at the Jordan. May we remember always the water of baptism that made us whole again and worthy of the Lord, that we will resolve from now on to continue living in faith and devotion to God, without turning to the left or right.

Stay faithful, brethren, and as we rejoice in the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us also remember our own day of baptism! Yes, when we were made glorified as the children of God! God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 12 January 2014 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 3 : 13-17

At that time Jesus arrived from Galilee and came to John at the Jordan to be baptised by him. But John tried to prevent Him, and said, “How is it that You come to me? I should be baptised by You!”

But Jesus answered him, “Let it be like that for now, so that we may fulfill the right order.” John agreed. As soon as He was baptised, Jesus came up from the water. At once, the heavens opened and He saw the Spirit of God come down like a dove and rest upon Him.

At the same time a voice from heaven was heard, “This is My Son, the Beloved; He is My Chosen One.”

Sunday, 12 January 2014 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 10 : 34-38

Peter then spoke to them, “Truly, I realise that God does not show partiality, but in all nations He listens to everyone who fears God and does good. And this is the message He has sent to the children of Israel, the Good News of peace He has proclaimed through Jesus Christ, who is the Lord of all.

No doubt you have heard of the event that occured throughout the whole country of the Jews, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism John preached. You know how God anointed Jesus the Nazarean with Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all who were under the devil’s power, because God was with Him.

Sunday, 12 January 2014 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 28 : 1a and 2, 3ac-4, 3b and 9b-10

Give the Lord, o sons of God, give the Lord the glory due His Name; worship the Lord in great liturgy.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the Lord thunders over vast waters. How powerful is the voice of the Lord. How splendorous is the voice of the Lord.

The God of glory thunders, the Lord strips the forests bare, and in His Temple all cry, “Glory!” Over the flood the Lord was sitting; the Lord is King and He reigns forever.

Sunday, 12 January 2014 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 42 : 1-4, 6-7

Here is My servant whom I uphold, My chosen One in whom I delight. I have put My Spirit upon Him, and He will bring justice to the nations. He does not shut or raise His voice, proclamations are not heard in the streets.

A broken reed He will not crush, nor will He snuff out the light of the wavering wick. He will make justice appear in truth. He will not waver or be broken until He has established justice on earth; the islands are waiting for His law.

I, YHVH, have called You for the sake of justice; I will hold Your hand to make You firm; I will make You as a covenant to the people, and as a light to the nations, to open eyes that do not see, to free captives from prison, to bring out to light those who sit in darkness.

Saturday, 11 January 2014 : Saturday after the Epiphany (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

We may be confused at first, when we listened to the first reading today, how that there are two kinds of sin, one that does not lead to death and one that leads to death. But indeed, there are indeed two kinds of sin that we know of in the Church, one being the venial sins, the lesser sins that are not very serious, and the other being the mortal sins, sins that are both heavy and serious in consequences.

But this does not mean that we should not take all sins seriously. Indeed, every kind of sins are serious and deadly, no matter how light or small they are. We cannot treat sinfulness lightly or we may end up in death. What is this death? As we all know, that the Lord is the Lord of life, and in Him, we have hope of eternal life, and liberation from the power of sin and death.

If we sin, that we are no longer worthy of the Lord, who is perfect in goodness. Yes, goodness that is not marred by sin. Sin, no matter how small, prevents us from truly reuniting ourselves with the love of God. And you all know that even if you build a building slowly, brick by brick, it will eventually become a large building. So it is the same as our sins then.

That is why as the Church had taught us, it is important for us to go to confession frequently, and not just that, but resolve to live a life without sin, as best as we can, every single day of our life. Confession should not be taken lightly, nor should we fear it. That is because the priests who hear our confession has been given with the authority from on high to forgive sins, just as with Jesus Christ, our Lord, who is Lord over all and had the authority to forgive sins, which He imparted to His disciples and from them, to our priests.

Do not fear, for the priests are also charged with the maintenance of the seal of confession, that is nothing that is shared by us to the priests should ever be made known to anyone else other than the priest. We should not fear to confess even our most secret sin. After all, the Lord is a loving and forgiving God, who will see that we are sorry for having sinned against Him and if we truly repented our sinfulness.

Sin is serious, brothers and sisters in Christ, and we should be conscious of our own sins, and understand the malice of sin above all else. Venial sins or small sins may not be a big hinder to our relationship with God, but they do make up to a big mountain of sin if we continue to do them without considering our state of sin.

We should indeed adopt the example of St. John the Baptist, who in great humility proclaimed the greatness of God, how great He was as compared to himself who is just mere servant of God. He readily said to his own disciples how he should decrease in importance while the Lord rose in importance. He did not let His human pride to get in the way, unlike many of us.

We often let fear and our human pride in the way of forgiveness. We do not let the Lord to come and absolve us from our sinfulness. We stood by our pride and let the devil to urge us to continue with our rebellion against God. No, this is not the way we should follow. Instead, cast aside our pride and fear, and instead put in a complete trust in the Lord and in His love and forgiveness.

Let us therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, from now on, follow the steps of St. John the Baptist, lowering ourselves humbly before God, and asking for His forgiveness from our sins, that we will be made righteous once again through our. Lord Jesus Christ, who sanctified and made holy all those who believe in Him. Let us be thrall of sin and evil no more, and let us from this day henceforth, be free and liberated!

Go often to confession and confess our wrongs to God, for our loving Father will surely hear us, forgive us, and embrace us with His love. God forgive our sins and be with us all always. Amen.

Saturday, 11 January 2014 : Saturday after the Epiphany (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 22-30

After this, Jesus went into the territory of Judea with His disciples. He stayed there with them and baptised. John was also baptising in Aenon, near Salim, where water was plentiful; people came to him and were baptised. This happened before John was put in prison.

Now John’s disciples had been questioned by a Jew about spiritual cleansing, so they came to John and said, “Rabbi, the One who was with you across the Jordan, and about whom you spoke favourably, is now baptising, and all are going to Him.”

John answered, “No one can receive anything, except what has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before Him.’ Only the bridegroom has the bride; but the friend of the bridegroom stands by and listens, and rejoices to hear the bridegroom’s voice. My joy is now full.”

“It is necessary that He increase but that I decrease.”

Saturday, 11 January 2014 : Saturday after the Epiphany (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 149 : 1-6, 9

Alleluia! Sing to the Lord a new song, sing His praise in the assembly of His saints. Let Israel rejoice in His Maker, let the people of Zion glory in their King!

Let them dance in praise of His Name and make music for Him with harp and timbrel. For the Lord delights in His people; He crowns the lowly with victory.

The saints will exult in triumph; even at night on their couches. Let the praise of God be on their lips, and in their hands two-edged swords.

Saturday, 11 January 2014 : Saturday after the Epiphany (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 5 : 14-21

Through Him we are fully confident that whatever we ask, according to His will, He will grant us. If we know that He hears us whenever we ask, we know that we already have what we asked of Him.

If you see your brother committing sin, a sin which does not lead to death, pray for him, and God will give life to your brother. I speak, of course, of the sin which does not lead to death. There is also a sin that leads to death; I do not speak of praying about this. Every kind of wrongdoing is sin, but not all sin leads to death.

We know that those born of God do not sin, but the one who was born of God protects them and the evil one does not touch them. We know that we belong to God, while the whole world lies in evil.

We know that the Son of God has come and has given us power to know the truth. We are in Him who is true, His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

My dear children, keep yourselves from idols.