Friday, 29 April 2016 : Fifth Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, continuing from our discourse yesterday, and continuing with the readings from the Holy Scriptures from yesterday, we heard again about how the Apostles were reassuring those disciples of our Lord who were not of Jewish origin, but instead, belonging to the Greeks, or the Romans and the other peoples collectively known as the Gentiles.

Even though at the earliest days of the Church, most of the faithful were Jews, but very quickly many non-Jews also came to believe in the Lord. They came to join the Church in droves in the many cities, particularly in the places where the Church was to be born and which were to be the foundations of the Universal Church in the years to come. Gentiles eventually rapidly outnumbered the Jews in the number of the faithful and the members of the Church.

Thus, as we have discussed and mentioned it yesterday, the ones among the faithful who wanted to enforce strict discipline in accordance with the laws of Moses and the laws in accordance to the Jewish tradition, namely the Pharisees who became the disciples of our Lord, their idea and argument was rejected as this unnecessarily brought burdens to those who want to believe in God.

Instead, the Apostles made it clear that many of those laws were redundant and unnecessary, and it was such as a result of many hundreds and thousands of years of modification and additions to the original Law passed down to them from Moses, and which Moses himself received from God. The extent of such modification and addition was such that the original meaning, intent and purpose of the Law was lost.

That was why Jesus came into the world, besides to save us, He also revealed the truth once again of His love, and how He has given the Law to help guide mankind to Him, to know of His love, and to love Him unconditionally, and do the same to their fellow brethren, without being buried underneath layers after layers of protocols and difficult commitments.

And thus, it comes now to our responsibility and the task waiting ahead of us, as the Lord has laid it Himself for us. The works of the Apostles are not done, and these have been continuing since the days when the Apostles still walked about and roamed around the earth. But the works of evangelisation, the conversion of sinners, and calling people to the presence of God still continue even to this day, and on the days to come, and the task is placed squarely on our shoulders.

There are still many people who await God’s salvation, and there are still many more souls who are waiting for God’s love and mercy, as well as His forgiveness and blessings. There are many who through our works and commitments to helping them, can find their way out of the darkness of the world and into the light of our God, but all these will require us to stand up and be courageous to take up our crosses, the commitments we have as members of God’s Church.

Today we celebrate the feast day of a great woman and a great saint, St. Catherine of Siena, well renowned since her days and even unto today, for her great zeal and piety, and for her many works in bringing mankind and many souls to salvation in God. St. Catherine of Siena was a member of the Dominican religious order, and she together with St. Francis of Assisi are the patron saints of Italy.

She encountered many visions of our Lord Jesus Christ, which propelled her to commit herself to even more good works among the people of God, through prayers and charity, giving away alms and charity to the poor, the sick and the dying, sometimes even causing annoyance to her own family. But St. Catherine of Siena never stopped doing what she thought was right in the sight of God, and indeed, she helped many on their way to God.

She travelled through many places and helped to inspire many people to follow her example, helping others on their way to Christ, and helped to rejuvenate the faith among the people who have fallen along the way and became lost in the darkness of the world. And ultimately, in her most well-known work, she even managed to push and persuade the Pope himself, who was then in a self-exile in the city of Avignon, away from Rome, to return to the city and the place where he should have been, Rome itself.

The many works of St. Catherine of Siena, and her tireless commitments to the people of God, in bringing about salvation of God to them should become our inspiration, and we should walk in her footsteps. Today therefore, let us pray and let us commit ourselves anew to God, and let us all be ever better disciples of our Lord, finding ways to devote ourselves in love to our brethren around us, and of course to the Lord as well, giving all of our heart’s attention to Him. God bless us all in our endeavours and may He always be with us. Amen.

Saturday, 23 April 2016 : Fourth Week of Easter, Memorial of St. George, Martyr and St. Adalbert, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the opposition which the Jews and the Pharisees showed to the works of St. Paul and the other Apostles as they went about to preach about the Lord. These people were not happy that the Apostles were preaching their teachings and were gaining plenty on followers, many people who abandoned their old ways and listened to the truth, believing in Jesus and became members of the Church.

And in addition, those Jews and influential Pharisees were also irritated at the fact that St. Paul and the other Apostles, St. Barnabas and others, who preached the faith and salvation also to the non-Jews, or the Gentiles. These people at that time would refer to the Greeks, the Romans and all others whom the Jews regarded as those who did not belong to the chosen race of Israel, and also those who did not obey the laws of Moses as they did.

In order to understand this, we have to understand the dynamics of the society and the communities of the people of God at that time. The people at the time of Jesus, especially in Judea and in some other regions were divided between the Jews and the Gentiles or the non-Jews. The Jewish people, or the descendants of the people of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel kept the laws of Moses faithfully, all the ordinances, rules and laws descended through the generations to them.

And the Jews often kept to themselves and observed those laws strictly, and in many occasions, many of them kept the laws without truly knowing the true intention of those laws as originally intended by God when He gave it to His people through Moses. And in the end, because of the fact that God had chosen them to be His people, they developed the superiority feelings and attitude in their dealings with the Gentiles.

How is this so, brethren? The Jews often treated the Gentiles as those who were not worthy of God’s salvation, and that they alone were worthy to receive God and His grace. And those others were not chosen by God and therefore were heathens and pagans. This is one of the explanation why the Jews were not happy when St. Paul and the other Apostles were preaching that the non-Jews could also be saved by believing in Jesus.

Even within the Church itself at that time, there were Pharisees who believed in God, who accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. And yet, if we read through the subsequent parts of the Acts of the Apostles, we will see in some parts, the tension and disagreements between them and St. Paul and the Apostles based on their works with the Gentiles and about their salvation in Jesus.

In all these, we see how mankind often placed their trust in things other than God. Even though the laws of Moses were originally given to the people of Israel by God, but over the many centuries that followed, its true meaning and purpose had been twisted beyond recognition by the many different interpretations and modifications that those people throughout the ages had done to the Law of God.

And these people resisted any change or modification to what they thought was right, and they refused to believe in the truth revealed by God through Jesus His Son. And when the Apostles tried to continue the good works of God, by preaching that same truth to them and to those who have not yet heard of it, they resisted and even persecuted the Apostles and the holy servants of God.

It is a reminder for us all that each and every one of us as those who have believed in God and who have been charged with the same responsibility to preach the Good News to all mankind, will not have it easy for us to live this life in good faith. We will encounter difficulties, challenges and even persecution for enduring to be faithful and remaining committed to God and His cause.

But we should not give up or give in to the world and its demands, just as in the past, St. Adalbert and St. George, the saints whose feasts we are celebrating today, have been devoted to God and were committed to a holy life, and for the salvation of their fellow brethren, even though they were threatened with suffering and even with a painful death.

St. George the Martyr was a great soldier, a soldier in the Roman army, who served during the time of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who was renowned for his particularly oppressive attitude against the Church and all Christians. But St. George did not hesitate at all to resist the Emperor, when he pronounced the persecution of Christians throughout the Empire. And when he ordered all the soldiers to renounce their former gods and offer sacrifices to the Emperor and the pagan gods, St. George refused to do so.

Thus, St. George courageously stood by the faith which he had in the Lord even in the face of suffering and death. He faced his death without fear, knowing that the Lord would be with him, and through his examples, many others would be inspired to remain strong in their faith as well, and thus avoid damnation and destruction which is awaiting all those who refuse to believe in God.

St. Adalbert on the other hand was a renowned bishop of Prague, known also as St. Adalbert of Prague. He was a great servant of the Lord, a faithful worker who spread the Good News among the then still pagan peoples of the region known as Bohemia and Prussia, in what is now northern Germany and western Poland. St. Adalbert continued to minister to the people there despite challenges and opposition, and even when his life was threatened, he did not give up.

And thus, when he was martyred in the midst of doing his works, he did not fear and he was filled with joy knowing that, just as St. George had done before him, and just as many other holy saints and martyrs had done before him, he will be rewarded gloriously for all that he has done for the sake of the people of God, out of love for his Lord and Master.

Let us all also therefore be inspired to live faithfully as these holy saints had lived, and let us all fill our lives with good deeds and commit ourselves to God in all that we do. May this Easter season be a time of renewal for us all, that we may draw ever closer to the Lord our God, and be closer to His saving grace. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 21 April 2016 : Fourth Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Anselm, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the works of St. Paul and the other Apostles, who went to many places during the early days of the Church, spreading the Good News of God’s salvation and teaching them about Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. And by their ceaseless and tireless works, they have brought many people to believe in God and thus worthy to receive salvation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we gather together to remember the commitment which the Apostles had shown to the people of God, by their efforts and their attempts in bringing the people of God closer to Him. They laboured and toiled, suffered and endured persecutions, just so that many of us will be able to find hope in Him, and receive glory and redemption in His Name.

Jesus spoke in the Gospel today, about how those who accepted the messenger, also accepted the master. And therefore, those who welcomed the Apostles and listened to their preachings and teachings have all received the Lord Himself and have welcomed Him as well into their hearts. For the words and the teachings of the Apostles are just the same as what the Lord Himself had taught them and passed on to them.

And yet unfortunately, we should realise how not everyone is willing to accept what the Lord had brought upon us. Many even rejected His message and preferred to follow the ways of the world. And by what we knew of the history of our Church and the faith, we should know how many of the faithful servants of God had suffered under the hands of those who rejected Him and also those who spurned His love.

Even those whom God had chosen had also risen up against Him. From the time of Judas Iscariot, to all the heretics that had risen up against the true teachings of the faith, there had been many who betrayed the Lord and brought much harm and dissension to the Church. And this brought us to the reality, that God had called not the great and the perfect, but instead, He called the imperfect ones, and grant to them the power and the opportunity to bring themselves closer to perfection.

What does this mean, brethren? It means that all of us have the choice that we can make freely, whether we want to follow the Lord and His path, obey His laws and commandments, or instead, we can choose to ignore Him, and walk in the paths contrary to the will of God. We have been given this opportunity to choose, and the impetus is now therefore on us, and for us to make a conscious choice about our actions and how these will impact us as a whole.

Brethren, let us all today reflect on the examples of St. Anselm, the saint whose feast we are celebrating today. St. Anselm was a faithful servant of the Lord, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury during the high Middle Ages era. St. Anselm was at the forefront of the conflict that arose between the Church and the secular authority under the rule of the king.

At that time, the Church and the king were in contention on the matters of authority, power and influence, with neither sides willing to give way to the other party. Thus, this conflict brought about much difficulties, sufferings and miseries to many people who were torn by the conflict between the Church and the king’s secular authority.

St. Anselm defended the Church’s stance that their authority came from God alone, and that the Church is not subjected to the will of the king. The king and his advisors certainly had a different opinion. They conflicted in various areas, and many obstacles faced St. Anselm during his years of service and leadership of the flock which had been entrusted to him.

The king and his advisors, and even his successor as king made life difficult for St. Anselm and those who worked with him, and St. Anselm was even exiled two times for his opposition to the designs and the inappropriate actions of the king and his advisors. But St. Anselm never gave up, and through fervent prayers and committed life to God, he persevered and continued the good works which many of his predecessors had started.

St. Anselm was not an amazing person, nor was he perfect. Instead, God called him from his lowliness, from his humility and simple origins, and made him to be the great tool through which He made a real difference in the lives of all those whom He had touched through the hands and the works of St. Anselm. Certainly, there are many things which we can be inspired by the works of this holy man and servant of God.

Let us all renew our commitments today, and from now on, let us all recommit ourselves to the Lord, and give our very best in order to bring the word of God to those who have yet to hear of it. Let us all commit ourselves to the works which help many others to draw closer to the source of salvation, the salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ. May God help us and strengthen our faith, and may He keep us always in His embrace. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 8 January 2015 : Thursday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listen about the fulfillment of the Law and the prophecies of the prophets and messengers of God in Jesus, which He Himself proclaimed as He read from the very prophecy of Isaiah at the synagogue of His hometown of Nazareth. In Jesus God had made manifest His love, which entered this world and dwells among us even now, for Christ is in us, and we live in Him, all of us who put our faith to Him and believe in Him.

But if we read later on what happened after Jesus had proclaimed Himself as the Messiah, we would find out that His own townspeople, His own neighbours rejected Him, as they were too fixated on their own ego and human desires, thinking that because they knew Him who had lived and dwelled among them for a long time, then they had the right to judge who He was.

They thought of Him as a mere carpenter’s Son, and being in the family of a carpenter, they thought lowly of Him. In their minds, they thought, how could this mere Carpenter be the Messiah or be the One to bring the salvation of all mankind? They thought that because they saw Him doing menial job of a carpenter, cutting the logs and making furnitures, then they got the right to judge His character.

But they were wrong, as it is the same too for many of us, as we are often so blinded by our imperfect human perceptions, biased by our flawed sense of judgment, biased by our desires and even greed, and biased by our upbringing and the varied influences of the world. How often is it that we are jealous of what others have and we do not have with us? How often is it that we crave what others have, wishing that we have them too, be it by force or other means?

Brethren in Christ, we often do not realise God’s presence among us and within us, indeed because we are often selfish and thinking only about ourselves and nothing else. We are too caught up with the concerns of this world to even notice about the Lord working His subtle works in our world, and among us all. Remember, that God is Love, and Jesus is the manifestation of that great love which He has for us. Even though He is no longer physically in the world because He ascended into heaven, but His love is still with us and is still present with us.

And the essence of His love is still with us too, even though He has ascended to heaven, but because He has given us His Body to eat and His Blood to drink, to all of us who believe in Him, and to all of us who have accepted Him as our Lord and Saviour, we have received Him, His Real Presence and True Body and Blood into ourselves. As such, we have the Lord and His love dwelling in us.

We should therefore be conscious of this love which God had shown us through Christ. We must not be like the people of Nazareth who were indifferent and even openly hostile against Him for they were blinded by their own ego, by their own prejudice and jealousy. We must not follow their examples, and instead we all must be humble, knowing how much love God has poured unto us, even though we are sinners, wicked and unworthy.

This season of Christmas, which we still celebrate even today, is a season of celebration of God’s love for us all, which was made fully and completely real and concrete, through the loving entry of Himself, through the Son, into the world, and His birth at Bethlehem, as a humble Baby, the One who would change the world and all of us forever.

For Christ calls us, even now, just as He had done so often in the past, to repent and change our sinful ways. He has lovingly sacrificed Himself and offered Himself as the perfect oblation and offering to free us forever from sin and its consequences, but this can only happen if we too accept what He has done for us and recognise what He has done for us. Thus we have to learn to recognise Christ present within us and around us, by knowing His love, understanding it and applying it in our own lives.

God has given us all love, by sharing it through His Son, who is with us, and this love needs to be shared with one another. If we keep this love within ourselves, then it will wither and be gone, but if we share it, it will grow stronger and ever stronger. Thus, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all share our love with one another, living our lives filled with faith, faith in God’s love. May Almighty God be our guide and our strength, so that through us all, He may call many more peoples of many nations to be reunited with Himself. God bless us all. Amen.

 

First Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2015/01/07/thursday-8-january-2015-thursday-after-the-epiphany-first-reading/

 

Psalm :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2015/01/07/thursday-8-january-2015-thursday-after-the-epiphany-psalm/

 

Gospel Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2015/01/07/thursday-8-january-2015-thursday-after-the-epiphany-gospel-reading/

Wednesday, 29 October 2014 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s most important message and lesson from the Scriptures to us is the nature of our faith and how important it is to our salvation and to the salvation of our souls. Few would be saved indeed, just as Christ had mentioned it, but not because they are not faithful in the Lord. Many indeed among the people did not have faith in God and even despise His offer of salvation, however there are equally many of those who do have the faith in them, and yet this faith is dead or not living.

Why is this so? That is because faith cannot be just mere statement or creed. It cannot be limited to just reciting the Creed as we always do during the Sunday or major celebrations of the Holy Mass, as mere recitation and saying of the words that we believe in God and in His laws and commandments without being accompanied by true and complete devotion to that faith through our concrete action in life, is meaningless and empty. And an empty faith does not lead to salvation, but instead to condemnation.

That is because the faith that is empty, is no better and in fact is the same as the faith of hypocrites, namely like the faith of the Pharisees, the elders of Israel, the teachers and scribes of the Law, who promoted external and superficial devotions to the Law and the ways of the Lord, but without fully understanding the purpose and meaning, as well as the potential use for the Law, and therefore their faith remained just as that, empty and superficial.

This is the same as what Jesus said to the people, in His parable of the master of the house and the guests, when He said that the door is narrow and that it will be difficult for many if not most people to pass through it to enter into the promised kingdom of heaven and everlasting life. That is because we are unable to enter the door because of the desire and the pride that made us all bloated, filled with self-righteousness and self-praise, our desire and greed, our jealousy and all the negativities that prevent us from truly reaching out to the Lord our God.

This is also similar to the story and parable which Jesus had told the people as well, on how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God compared to that of a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. Somewhere in Jerusalem there was actually this gate where the gate is so low that whoever pass through it, humans and camels alike have to lower their heads or else they would knock their heads over the gate and would not be able to enter the gate.

The rich and proud man was unable to enter because for him it was humiliating and demeaning that he should lower and bow his head while he enter through the low gate, and meanwhile, the camel had no problem passing through it, because what it did is simply that it lowered its head and body, so that it was able to pass through the gate readily, even though it was larger in size than the rich and proud man.

The same therefore applies to the case of why it was so difficult for many people to pass through the narrow gate into the house. That is because the narrow gate represents the challenges that we need to face in life in order for us to follow the Lord and to obtain salvation in Him. We do not like it difficult or when challenges come our way, and we prefer to have the path to be smoothened for us, and yet there is no such thing when we decide to follow the Lord.

Many people professed to have the faith, just like the people who professed that they have seen the works of the Lord and even ate and drank with Him, but when we asked again, on whether they truly have faith in the Lord, can we say with confidence that they have such love for God? Most of us stay on with something or someone only when things are favourable for us, but when things start to go downhill, it is our human nature to abandon the things and go to seek greener pastures.

Thus, it is the same with most of the people, who cared only to be satisfied in body and to have it easy, and to avoid all sorts of difficulties and problems. Once difficulty and challenges come their way, they would evacuate and go to pick other things. Thus their faith in God is likely to be superficial and not real. Their faith and devotion will quickly evaporate once they are faced with challenges in life, the temptations of the flesh and the world, and the opposition of Satan. Thus it is imperative that we reject Satan and have control over our own desires.

So what should we do brothers and sisters in Christ, how do we then pass through that narrow door and into salvation in God? It is by being vigilant at all times against the temptations and the works of Satan, and then in addition by following what St. Paul had suggested in the letter he wrote to the Church and to the faithful in Ephesus.

St. Paul suggested obedience and sincere love for God through the good understanding and observation of the Law, as the way for us to seek God and His salvation. Obeying God as His servant, we cannot be divided in our hearts. We cannot be half-hearted, or even worse if our faith is superficial only. We have to be committed to the Lord and remain true to His path to the end of days.

If we do all these, the Master of the House of God, that is Jesus, will welcome us with His great love, forgiving us from our sins and iniquities and replacing from within us the selfishness and reluctance and doubt that prevented us from truly seeking and reaching out to the Lord. The Lord who sees all these will know that we truly understand His laws and commandments, and thus will justify us in faith.

May the Almighty God bring us into new life and salvation in Him, and give us strength and understanding so that we may always walk in His path, not tempted and not to fall from the path which leads us directly to God. Let us cast away all forms of wickedness and evil, as well as all all doubt from our hearts. This is so that we may believe and love the Lord with all of our strength, with all of our soul and with all of our beings.

May more and more souls come to the Lord to seek His forgiveness and mercy, and to attain salvation and eternal life in God. Let us not end up like those who refused to listen to the Lord and follow His ways, gaining temporary satisfaction at the price of the corruption and sin of their souls, hearts and body. God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.

 

First Reading : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/28/wednesday-29-october-2014-30th-week-of-ordinary-time-first-reading/

Psalm : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/28/wednesday-29-october-2014-30th-week-of-ordinary-time-psalm/

Gospel Reading : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/28/wednesday-29-october-2014-30th-week-of-ordinary-time-gospel-reading/

(Usus Antiquior) Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, Feast of St. Bartholomew the Apostle (Double II Classis) – Sunday, 24 August 2014 : Homily and Reflections on the Holy Scriptures

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard how Jesus opened the ears and the tongue of the deaf and dumb person, who was brought to Jesus to be healed, and healed he was indeed. The openings of his ears were opened and the ligaments of his tongue loosened, he could therefore hear and speak once again. And it is in particular important for us to take note how this is closely related to the testimony of St. Paul to the Church in Corinth, on how he came about to the faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Today’s Scripture and Gospel readings in fact talk about what happened during our own baptism, that singular and very important occasion when we are welcomed to be a member of the Holy Church of God, that is to no longer live in sin and in the darkness of this world, but instead embracing the light of Christ, professing Him to be our Lord and Saviour, and therefore cast out the veil that had blinded us and our senses to the great truth and majesty of the Lord. This applies to us be it that we are baptised in our early days in life or when we are baptised as adults.

In this Usus Antiquior rite, the celebration of the Mass of the Ages, we still faithfully kept in fullness the entirety of the sacred traditions we inherited from our fathers in faith, since the time of the early Church. And one of these sacred traditions was exactly the replica and reenactment of the actions which Jesus had done to the deaf and dumb man. This is called the Ephphetha or the opening of the ears and tongue, with the exact same meaning of the actions of Jesus we heard today.

The priest would do the same to the baby or the person being baptised, putting some spittle in the ears and touching the tongue of the person to be baptised, while saying the word, ‘Ephphetha’, to represent that because the priest in the person in Alter Christus, that is Christ personified, he represents the Lord who comes to open up our senses and end our blindness to His love and grace. And this is the very crucial and important meaning to this tradition we have kept faithfully since the beginnings of the Church.

This is meant to show the importance of baptism, as the gateway towards salvation, when we decide with full firmness and confidence to leave our old, sinful ways behind, that is also to leave behind a life of uncertainty and filled with doubts, and instead, come towards the Lord in order to begin a new life filled with faith, hope and love in the Lord. That means we are no longer blinded to God and His care for us, and we turn our back to our past lives, forgiven and given a new chance in life.

However, this must not stop here, as to stop here means that we have not done our part in life as the member of the Church and as the children of our loving God. In this, we can look at the example of St. Paul and what he had done for the sake of the Lord and his faith in Him. Remember, brethren, that faith saves us only if we commit ourselves to do good works based on that faith which we have, for without good works, our faith is as good as dead, and therefore we will not have any part in the salvation of God.

Baptism as I mentioned, with the rite of Ephphetha is just the beginning. It opens us up to the presence and to the power of God, which we are able to access and use for the good of ourselves and for those around us. All of us, each and every one of us had been given a special gift, all by the Lord who knows us and who knows what we are capable of doing. Therefore, it is only right that we use what we had been given with in order to bring much goodness to this world.

St. Paul himself was once a great sinner and even a great enemy of all the faithful, as Saul, the young Pharisee and zealot, who in his great but misled zeal, ended up pursuing, hunting and murdering many of the faithful of the earliest Church, the disciples of Christ in cold blood. He took part in the killing of the first martyr, Deacon Stephen, and he also hunted many of the faithful throughout Judea and Jerusalem, showing no mercy even to women and children whom he had dealt with.

He had even planned with great fervour and spirit to spread his works and persecutions to other places, with Damascus as one of his targets. Blinded as he was with hatred and misguided faith, as well as with the lies of the evil one, he seemed to be heading directly towards destruction and eternal damnation, but this was not what the Lord had in plan for him.

The Lord called Saul on the way to Damascus, revealing Himself and His truth to this wayward son, who eventually repented and was baptised by Ananias, the disciple of Christ. When Ananias laid his hands on Saul to heal him from his physical blindness, a scale which had covered his eyes fell off and he could see again, but then, this together with his baptism shortly later did not constitute just the opening of the physical eyes and senses, but eventually also the spiritual senses, allowing him to receive and understand what the Lord had in store for him and mankind.

This was how the great enemy of the Church and the faithful was completely transformed to become the greatest champion of the Lord and the bravest defender of the faith. No longer acting against God and His people, instead he preached about the Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ with a renewed purpose and zeal, calling many others to repent and follow in his footsteps. This is the purpose of his letters, which we heard today, that is to call mankind to repent and to love God sincerely once again.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are called to reflect on our own lives, whether we have been following the Lord and whether we have done what is expected from us to do, as His followers, His children and as members of His living Church, the Body of Christ. Have we done our parts to help in the evangelisation and the conversion of many who still lived in darkness? Remember that just like the deaf and dumb man whose ears and tongues were opened, and like St. Paul whose eyes were opened and allowed to see again, we too have been restored in the fullness of our senses, not just physical but also spiritual.

We have our part to play in order to be witnesses of our faith. We should follow the example of St. Paul who spoke up for his faith and who proclaimed to many others in great humility, the honour and chance he had been given with by the Lord, who had called Him from the darkness into the light, giving him a new lease of life and a promise of life eternal in Him.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we also celebrate today the feast of St. Bartholomew, also known once as Nathaniel, a righteous man who was called by Jesus to be His disciple and Apostle, and who faithfully exercised his part to play in God’s plan of salvation even unto his martyrdom and death in the defense of his faith, let us all also follow in the footsteps of these saints. We have also been called by the Lord, given much by the Lord, and we ought therefore give back to Him what we can give, by showing our dedication to others, sharing our faith with those who have little or none.

May Almighty God therefore guide us in our goodness and works. May He be with us and grant us courage to speak up for our faith, that those who listen to us may also believe, and those who see our deeds and actions may also decide to be the followers of the Lord, and thus bringing more souls towards the salvation in God alone, that what we experienced at our baptism may also be experienced by others, removing the blindness of our body and soul, and enabling us all to experience the love of God. God be with us all, always and forever. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Tenth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 17 August 2014 : Homily and Scripture Reflections

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s readings clearly highlighted the need for all of us to have a good and proper way of prayer and living our faith, namely one that is not tainted with our personal and human desires, hubris and sins of our heart. The Pharisee prayed not with the wholeness of his heart, mind and soul, and his being is not entirely focused on the Lord as he prayed, which is truly not the way for us to communicate with our Lord and God.

For prayer is indeed a communication between us and the Lord, and it is important that in prayers, we talk with the Lord from our heart to His heart, but we must also be able to listen, and therefore we may listen to the words of the Lord speaking in our hearts. The Pharisee was engaged in a litany of self-praise and self-aggrandisment, and not only just praising his own goodness, as he also looked down on others and thinking of others as being not as good as himself. This is what we must not do.

We are all sinners, brethren, like that of the tax collector, or the publican. And he knew the full weight of his sins before him, and that was why he was so repentant and felt so unworthy before the Lord. He did not put down others, and he certainly did not boast about his achievements, but rather, he allowed God to work His wonders in him, by opening his heart, mind and soul wide open for the Lord to bring light back into his darkened self.

And the Lord had given us much to build up on during this life we have on earth. Why is this so? Because God had given us the spirit of life and that is why we are living now in this world. However, we who have believed in the Lord and have given ourselves to be baptised in the Most Holy Name of the Most Holy Trinity also received in us the gifts of the Holy Spirit, just as the disciples of Christ had received that day on the occasion of Pentecost.

The Holy Spirit, as we all know have seven cardinal features and seven types of fruits that can be born out of the Spirit in us. And the Holy Spirit also gives us various abilities and endowments, all according to our needs and to the will of the Lord in giving us those gifts and blessings. But there are those among men who claim to be able to get all the numerous gifts of the Spirit, without understanding what they are truly about.

Yes, I am talking about those common practices of ‘speaking in tongues’ practiced often by our heretical and unrepentant brethren in the so-called Evangelical and Pentecostal tradition of the Protestant ‘churches’, who often go so far as to make the practice of tongue-speaking as the mainstream of their worship. They pronounced babbling sounds as if they are speaking in tongues, mimicking the speeches of the Apostles, but this is in vain. In fact, they do not proclaim and praise the Lord in doing that, but instead invoking Satan to be present among them to tempt them.

The way to serve the Lord is not through this method, as when we do that, we have to remember the action of the Pharisee and the publican or the tax collector in their respective prayers. What is the intention of speaking in tongues? This is a dangerous practice that if done without understanding, and it is also already prevalent even among certain sections of the Church, that this will lead the faithful not towards the Lord, but towards the self-aggrandisement of the Pharisee.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I am also talking about those who in the Church, are claiming to represent the will of certain peoples, claiming that they are fighting for equality among different groups, some representing the women and some the laity as a whole themselves. Let me ask you this question, brothers and sisters in Christ, why did the Lord created us men and women in the first place? And why was there the division between the priesthood and the laity in the Church?

The answer to the first question is clear, as we are intended by the Lord to complement each other. Women were born from men, and without men, women are incomplete, and so therefore, men are incomplete without women. That is why, we can never have any equality in literal sense between the males and females in our society and in our Church, because each of us, man and woman are born with a particular purpose in life, and we have been given the specific gift, much like that of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Then regarding the priesthood and the laity, it is also similar. Those who are in the laity are those who choose to have an ordinary life, following the routines of this world that is to have a family and beget children for the love and glory of God, and those in the priesthood dedicated their whole life in devoted service both to God, their Lord, Master and Bride, as well as to the whole mankind.

We cannot stand for this kind of irresponsible movements and notions, and they are tantamount to challenging the Holy Spirit and God Himself, as if they are asking for the wholeness of the gifts that God had given mankind, which is a sign of hubris and human pride, which had once made Satan fall from his place of honour and glory, and which will also bring about our downfall if we are not careful.

Let us all reflect on this, and let us all lay down our pride, our arrogance, our human desire for fame, greatness and glory. Let us instead be like the tax collector, opening our hearts wholly and sincerely to the Lord, so that He may speak to us in the depth and in the silence of our hearts. Let us all build a culture of prayer, and not just any prayer, but prayer deeply rooted in our faith and in our desire to love both mankind and the Lord our God beyond all other things.

May Almighty God bless us and our endeavours, and strengthen the faith within us that we may all be examples for the world, becoming beacons of light in the darkness. Amen.