Monday, 22 December 2014 : Fourth Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple or Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear of two joyful and very grateful women, for what God had done unto them, as a sign of God’s faithfulness and grace to all those who had placed their complete trust in Him. The first woman is Hannah, the second wife of Eliakim and the mother of Samuel, the prophet of God and Judge over Israel. The second woman is none other than Mary, the mother of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ.

Both of them had been granted great graces by the Lord, and even more so for the second one, that is Mary. Hannah prayed before God with her whole heart and attention at the House of God as she was unable to have a child with her husband, and although he loved her more than Peninah, the other wife, but the latter bore him ten children while Hannah had none.

Peninah often ridiculed her and made fun of her because of her barrenness and inability to bear children. Distraught over this and deeply troubled, she had nowhere else to turn but to turn to the Lord, who succoured her and rescued her from her troubles. She was given her first son, Samuel, whom she dedicated and consecrated to the Lord to be His servant forever.

Hannah sought the Lord for help and she was truly sincere. And the Lord heard her and answered her prayers. This emotion of joy and happiness of having herself heard by the Lord is reflected in the Song of Hannah, which tone is similar to what Mary in the Gospel today sang, the song known as the Magnificat, a great expression of joy and praise to God, as reflected by the words of that beautiful hymn to the Lord.

In that, Mary thanked God for what He had done for those who trust in Him. It is not so much that God would punish those who are rich, privileged or with power. God does not discriminate between His people by their background, possessions or other attributes. All are equal before God, equally loved and with equal opportunities at receiving His bountiful mercy.

The key learning point from the Scripture Readings today is that God rewards those who are faithful to Him, and those who put their trust completely to Him. He rewards not those who boast of themselves, but instead He blesses those who boast of the Lord and His love. Indeed, what Mary did was truly boasting in the Lord, announcing before all the whole world, and we still continue to echo this song regularly in our prayers and devotions, in our observation of the daily Divine Office, that the Lord has done great things for His servants who entrust themselves to Him.

In our world today it is difficult for us to put our trust in the Lord, for it is often that we put our trust in ourselves first. We rely on things of this world first, on our own power and abilities before we put our trust in God. The tendency is for us to follow our heart’s desire rather than to listen to the Lord. Temptation of Satan in this world is truly plentiful, and he never runs out of tactics to trap us and bring about our downfall.

This coming Christmas is both therefore a challenge and opportunity for all of us. It is a challenge for us to break free of our mindset and enslavement to our desires and greed, and it is thus also an opportunity, for us to seek the Lord anew and rediscover our faith in God, through sincere and genuine celebration of this feast of Christmas, the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

You see, brothers and sisters in Christ, how committed is the Lord in His desire to help us all, that He extends Himself as the perfect Gift for mankind, the gift of everlasting and true Love. The blessings which Mary sung about has been given to all of us freely without charge, as long as we believe and put our trust in Him. Yet it is also a challenge for us all, as it is not easy for us to break free from our dependence on this world and its various things.

Temptations will be aplenty, brethren, and it is now up to us to challenge ourselves as we approach Christmas. Let us ask ourselves, are we ready to welcome the Lord into our midst? Have our words, actions and deeds truly represent our nature as the children of God? Thus, from now on, let us all put our trust in God, commit ourselves to change our ways in accordance to what God had taught us. Be prepared and let us welcome the coming of Christ into our midst in this commemoration of Christmas with open minds, heart and soul. God bless us all. Amen.


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Sunday, 30 March 2014 : 4th Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or Rose (Laetare Sunday)

1 Samuel 16 : 1b, 6-7, 10-13a

Fill your horn with oil and be on your way to Jesse the Bethlehemite for I have chosen My king from among his sons.

As they came, Samuel looked at Eliab the older and thought, “This must be YHVH’s anointed.” But YHVH told Samuel, “Do not judge by his looks or his stature for I have rejected him. YHVH does not judge as man judges; humans see with the eyes; YHVH sees the heart.”

Jesse presented seven of his sons to Samuel who said, “YHVH has chosen none of them. But are all your children here?” Jesse replied, “There is still the youngest, tending the flock just now.” Samuel said to him, “Send for him and bring him to me; we shall not sit down to eat until he arrives.”

So Jesse sent for his youngest son and brought him to Samuel. He was a handsome lad with ruddy complexion and beautiful eyes. And YHVH spoke, “Go, anoint him for he is the one.”

Samuel then took the horn of oil and anointed him in his brothers’ presence.


Wednesday, 5 February 2014 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red (Martyrs)

2 Samuel 24 : 2, 9-17

The king said to Joab and the commanders of the army who were with him, “Go through all the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and count the people that I may know how many they are.”

Joab gave the total count of the people to the king : eight hundred thousand sword-wielding warriors in Israel and five hundred thousand men in Judah. But after he had the people counted, David felt remorse and said to YHVH, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done, but now, o YHVH, I ask You to forgive my sin for I have acted foolishly.”

The following day, before David awoke, YHVH’s word had come to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, “Go, and give David this message : I offer you three things and I will let one of them befall you according to your own choice.”

So Gad went to David and asked him, “Do you want three years of famine in your land? Or do you want to be pursued for three months by your foes while you flee from them? Or do you want three days’ pestilence in your land? Now, think and decide what answer I shall give Him who sent me.”

David answered Gad, “I am greatly troubled. Let me fall into the hands of YHVH whose mercy is abundant; but let me not fall into human hands.” So YHVH sent a pestilence on Israel from morning until the appointed time, causing the death of seventy thousand men from Dan to Beersheba.

When the angel stretched forth his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, YHVH would punish no more and said to the angel who was causing destruction among the people, “It is enough, hold back your hand.” The angel of YHVH was already at the threshing floor of Araunah, the Jebusite.

When David saw the angel striking the people, he spoke to YHVH and said, “I have sinned and acted wickedly, but these are only the sheep; what have they done? Let Your hand strike me and my father’s family.”

Tuesday, 4 February 2014 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Samuel 18 : 9-10, 14b, 24-25a, 30 – 2 Samuel 19 : 3

Absalom was riding a mule and happened to meet the guards of David. As the mule passed under the thick branches of a big oak tree, his head was caught in the oak tree and he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule he was riding went its way.

Someone reported to Joab, “I saw Absalom hanging from an oak tree.” So he took three spears in his hand and thrust them into Absalom’s heart while he was still alive in the oak tree.

David was sitting between the two gates. The watchman posted at the roof of the gate, on the wall, saw a man running alone. So he called out and reported to the king.

So the king said, “Move away and stand there.” He moved aside and stayed there. The Cushite arrived and said, “Good news for my lord the king! YHVH has done you justice today and saved you from all those who rebelled against you.”

The king asked the Cushite, “How is the young Absalom?” The Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rebel against you end up like that young man.”

The king was greatly disturbed and, going up to the room over the gate, he wept and said, “O, my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! Would that I had died instead of you, o Absalom, my son, my son!”

It was reported to Joab, “The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” So the victory that day turned into mourning for all the people, when they heard that the king was grieving over his son.

Friday, 31 January 2014 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Bosco, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White (Priests)

2 Samuel 11 : 1-4a, 5-10a, 13-17

In the spring of that year, when kings usually set out to fight, David sent out Joab, his officers and all the Israelite troops. They slaughtered the Ammonites and attacked Rabbah, while David remained in Jerusalem.

One afternoon, David got up from his siesta and took a walk on the roof of the royal house. From the rooftop, he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful. David sent to inquire about the woman, and was told, “She is Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah, the Hittite.” So David sent messengers to have her brought to him.

As the woman saw she was with child, she sent word to David, “I am with child.” David then sent a message to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came, David asked him about Joab, how the people were and how the war was proceeding; then he told Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.”

Uriah left the palace and the king had a portion from his table sent to him. Uriah, however, did not go down to his house but slept by the door of the king’s palace with all the servants of his lord. David was told that Uriah did not go down to his house. David invited him to table and he ate and drank until he was drunk. When evening fell, however, he went to lie down on his couch with the guards of his lord instead of going down to his house.

The next morning, David wrote Joab a letter to be taken by hand by Uriah, in which he said, “Place Uriah in the front row where the fighting is very fierce and then withdraw from him so that he may be struck down and die.”

When Joab was attacking the city, he assigned Uriah to a place which he knew was being defended by strong warriors. And the defenders attacked the men of Joab. Some of David’s soldiers and officers were killed; Uriah the Hittite also died.

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.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Samuel 1 : 9-20

After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah stood up not far from Eli, the priest : his seat was beside the doorpost of YHVH’s house. Deeply distressed she went and prayed to YHVH and made this vow, “O YHVH of hosts, if only You will have compassion on Your maidservant and give me a son, I will put him in Your service for as long as he lives and no razor shall touch his head.”

As she prayed before YHVH, Eli observed the movement of her lips. Hannah was praying silently; she moved her lips but uttered no sound and Eli thought Hannah was drunk. He, therefore, said to her : “For how long will you be drunk? Let your drunkenness pass.”

But Hannah answered : “No, my lord, I am a woman in great distress, not drunk. I have not drunk wine or strong drink, but I am pouring out my soul before YHVH. Do not take me for a bad woman. I was so afflicted that my prayer flowed continuously.”

Then Eli said, “Go in peace and may the God of Israel grant you what you asked for.” Hannah answered, “Let Your maidservant deserve Your kindness.” Then she left the temple and when she was at table, she seemed a different woman.

Elkanah rose early in the morning and worshipped before YHVH with his wives. Then they went back home to Ramah. When Elkanah slept with his wife, Hannah, YHVH took compassion on her, and she became pregnant. She gave birth to a son and called him Samuel because she said : “I have asked YHVH to give him to me.”

Monday, 13 January 2014 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Today, brothers and sisters in Christ, we begin with the catechesis on the story of the prophet Samuel, one of the great prophet of the Old Testament, who was presented to the Lord by his parents, as the gratitude for the fulfillment of God’s love to a barren woman, Hannah, the mother of Samuel. From him would come the first two kings of Israel, namely Saul and David, the great king.

There were actually lots of similarities between the case of Samuel with that of the life of Jesus. Samuel was born from a woman who had not been able to conceive while the other wife of her husband conceived many children. Meanwhile John the Baptist, the herald of the coming of the Messiah, was born after his parents had not been able to conceive a child for many years, and were born only when they were already very old.

Samuel marked the transition period between the judges of Israel and the kings of Israel, while John the Baptist marked the period just before the coming of the Lord, the Messiah, to be the king among His people. Jesus Christ was also the descendant of David, the long awaited and prophesied descendant who would inherit the kingdom given to David the king, and rule it for eternity.

Samuel came to a people who had often forgotten about the Lord their God who saved them from suffering in slavery, and who liberated them with great might. They followed the wicked ways of their neighbours and the people who lived around them, worshipping their idols and false gods, and following their wicked customs inappropriate for the people of God.

Samuel came and made correct the attitude of the people, calling them to repent and follow the will and the laws of God, that they would once again become God’s righteous people. The same happened to John the Baptist, who came to prepare the way for the coming of Christ the Lord. John came to a people who outwardly might seem to be devout and law-abiding, but inside, they have no God or the love for God inside them.

Samuel and John came with the same purpose, that is to open the way for the Lord into the hearts of His people, that the people who had forgotten God’s love could once again enter the heart of His people. They called the people to repent from their sinful ways and once again turned their hearts towards God. Once they have done their duties, they stepped aside for the new era of glory, that is the new king to be the head of all the people, first in Saul and then David, and for John, the coming of the One True King Himself, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Let us then focus on Jesus, who came and called His first disciples in today’s Gospel. He called them, poor fishermen at the lake of Galilee. They were called, that they would no longer to fish for fishes to sell, but instead fish out for mankind, to be the fishers of men, especially those who have been lost to God, that they all may once again be reunited with their loving God through Jesus His Son.

These were to be His Apostles, the chosen ones among His first disciples, who followed Him and listened to His teachings, and to whom He revealed the greater part of the mystery of God and the plan of salvation that God had prepared in Jesus. Then, they were sent off to help with the ministry of Jesus as He went around proclaiming the Good News and the kingdom of God, performing healing and miracles as they went.

After the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus to assume His position of power in heaven, they were sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and since then they and their successors went around the world, proclaiming the faith and the truth that is in Jesus, Son of God and Saviour of the world. Even until today, the Church which Christ Himself had established in this world continue to speak out for Him and proclaim His words to all.

Why are all these so important, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because our Lord will come again as He had promised, that at the end of time, He will once again descend from heaven, this time as a mighty and conquering King, who will rule over all those who remain faithful to Him, while those who reject Him will be cast away into eternal damnation and suffering.

The prophets Samuel and John the Baptist, as well as the Apostles and disciples of Christ essentially all did the same thing, that is to proclaim the Kingdom of God, the Good News and hope in the Messiah and Lord, who will come and save His people. From time to time, the Lord had continued to reveal and repeat His message and promise to us, and His servants in this world continue to proclaim that message and promise to all.

We too, brethren, have a part to play in all these. We too are called to be witnesses of God’s Good News and revelation of truth, that we who believe in Him, may also proclaim His truth to all, to everyone around us, within our own families, within our circle of friends, and within our society. We are also called to be the servant of God and spread His words to all.

Therefore, let us all do our best, to be part of God’s mission, which He had entrusted to us. We all have our part to do in this, just as John the Baptist, Samuel, the Holy Apostles and other saints of God had done their respective parts. May we therefore do our best to bring the Light of God’s salvation and the fruits of God’s word to all mankind, and to bring mankind closer to God, as fishers of men, just as the Apostles were once called. Amen.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius Loyola, Priest (Psalm)

Psalm 98 : 5, 6, 7, 9

Extol the Lord, our God; worship at His footstool. Holy is He! And mighty!

Among His priests were Moses and Aaron, and Samuel among those who called on His Name. They called to the Lord, and He answered them.

In the pillar of cloud He spoke to them, and they kept His statutes and the decrees He gave them.

Extol the Lord our God; worship at His holy mountain. Holy is the Lord our God!

Sunday, 16 June 2013 : 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

2 Samuel 12 : 7-10, 13

Nathan said to David, “You are this man! It is YHVH, God of Israel, who speaks : ‘I anointed you king over Israel and saved you from Saul’s hands; I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives; I also gave you the nations of Israel and Judah. But if these were not enough, I would have given you even more.'”

“‘Why did you despise YHVH by doing what displeases Him? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife for yourself. Yes, you killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now the sword will never be far from your family because you have despised Me and taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite for yourself.'”

David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against YHVH.” Nathan answered him, “YHVH has forgiven your sin; you shall not die.”