Sunday, 26 October 2014 : 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we come together as one family of the Church of God, and we listened to the words of the Scripture and the Gospel. And today we heard how it was shown to us the truth and the heart and core of what is the Law of God, which God had revealed to His people through Moses, His servant. The basics of this Law is the set of ten commandments we know as the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments is the basic tenets of the faith which God revealed to mankind so that they might follow in the ways which the Lord was to show them, that is the way of love. Before the revelation of the Ten Commandments, mankind did not have a standard set of rule that governed them, and as a result each one acted as it pleased them and as they liked, more often than not, not in accordance with the will of God and thus wickedness reigned over mankind.

And this Law was given through Moses to the people of God, to be a guide to them and in how they lived their lives. The Ten Commandments was written on two slabs of stone, written by God Himself, as a covenant which God renewed with the descendants of Abraham. And this covenant is a covenant of love, made upon love which God has for mankind, and as our part of the covenant, we also have to love Him back in the same way as He had loved us.

What is a covenant exactly? It is the promise and contract that is established between two parties, and it is legally and completely binding in nature. Both sides who have committed to a covenant must remain faithful to it, and as we all know, our Lord is forever ever faithful, and He never walked away from His promise. After all, He fulfilled completely His promises to His servants Abraham, David and all Israel, and the perfect fulfillment of His promises was through Jesus.

It is we mankind who often renege on our part of the covenant. God had first made His covenant with Adam, the first man and his wife Eve, the first woman. To them He gave authority and stewardship over all of the earth and over all of creations. And yet, they disobeyed despite God’s love and care for them, and they chose to put their lot with Satan and listened to their personal human desire rather than listening to God and obeying their part of the covenant between God and mankind.

And Abraham was faithful, this son of Adam who was righteous among the nations, that God renewed His covenant with men through Him, and he was blessed beyond all other men for his faithfulness and righteousness, walking faithfully in the way of the Lord. And yet, it was his descendants who yet again reneged against the Lord, committing evil after evil, with the treatment they showed to Joseph in jealousy and how they sold him into slavery out of that jealousy and hatred they had.

But God was patient, and He continued to love His people despite of their unfaithfulness and disobedience. Indeed, He wanted to show them His love, which He had shown them for generations after generations, but spurned by the people who did not listen to the Lord nor realise the extent of His love for them. He thus sent His servant Moses to liberate them, and to lead them to the promised inheritance for them, and bring them to know His Law, the Ten Commandments revealed through Moses.

But was the people faithful? No! As soon as they were freed from the land of Egypt they continued in their disobedience, complaining and disobeying God, creating idols after idols and embracing fornications after fornications of their bodies and souls. And they were indeed punished for their disobedience, for embracing the ways of the world and for worshipping false idols. But God again did not give up on the people He loved so much, and as He had done through the prophets, He revealed the final act of love He had for us.

Yes, that act is through Jesus, whom the Father sent to the world in order to save it and to bring all of us, the partakers of the covenant of God, into a new hope through the new covenant which Christ had established in His love. Yes, and that is why He explained to the Pharisees, the true meaning of the Law which is love. The love of God for men, and the desire of God to see us saved and freed from our state of sin due to our breaking of the promise of the covenant.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were puritans and extremists in the way of their faith, as they observed the Law very strictly, imposing a very strict set of rules, regulations, habits and behaviours which they forced onto the people of God. This was because the basic tenets of the faith, the Ten Commandments and the sets of laws and regulations which God had revealed through Moses had been twisted in their meaning and purpose by them, those shepherds and leaders who had been entrusted with teaching authority but misused them for their own gains.

The observations of their Law had become unmerciful in nature and they persecuted others just because they thought that those who did not adapt their puritan and extremist beliefs were unworthy and ought to be condemned. They condemned the one whom Jesus healed, the blind man from birth, just because he defended the Lord and told the truth about Him, a truth which the Pharisees and the scribes failed to see.

Remember again what the Lord told Moses and the people of Israel in the Book of Exodus in the first reading today? God made it clear to them that in the observation of the Law, one must act with the core of love in all purposes, and not anger, injustice, prejudice, and less so jealousy and other negativities which cause us to exercise the Law imprudently, just as the Pharisees had done.

Why the Ten Commandments of the Lord again? Why should it be that we should not kill, we should not steal, we should not covet others’ possessions? Why is it that we ought to honour our father and mother, loving our God and having no other gods beside Him? That is all because we all need to know love, and realise what is love all about, that is to give ourselves completely and totally to the love of God, avoiding all these actions which does not lead us to love and life, but indeed to hatred and death.

When we kill, we do not have love in us, and when we steal from someone, we do not have the love we ought to have for that brother or sister of ours, and when we covet someone else’s possession, it is impossible for us to love that person when we at the same time have any negativity towards the person. And how can we love if we cannot even love our parents, and foremost of all, if we cannot even love our God and devote ourselves entirely to Him?

We should take heed of what St. Paul had written to the Church and the faithful in Thessalonica, where he praised them for their ways and how they had changed their ways of old, of pagan worship and idol worship, of fornication and sin, into the way of the children of God, and walk righteously in the path of the Law. They obeyed the Law, not just because they have to obey it, but they understood the importance and the true meaning of the Law, that is love. We should indeed follow their examples and do the same.

Indeed, God did not give us the Law to torture us or to make our lives more difficult. The Law was intended to guide us, and guide us back from our waywardness and our rebellious tendencies, back to His loving embrace. And God also gave us a new chance through Christ, whose death and resurrection renewed for us a new covenant which He established with us. And remember that Jesus came not to destroy the Law but to perfect it, by revealing the true intention of the Law, which is indeed Love!

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, we all have a choice today. We can choose to continue our lives as usual, and we can do things as we like and as we wished it. We can also choose to live our lives following the rules and regulations as established by the Church and our Faith, following them just for the sake of following those laws and rules. But what will all these bring us? Nothing! Nothing indeed, other than harm and destruction.

So what is the other choice that we have? We can choose to understand the Law, as what we have heard and discussed here, that is to know the love in the Law of God. Indeed, the Law is very simple, as at the heart of it is love, and first, the first three commandments are all about loving God, and loving Him from the very bottom and depth of our hearts, with the whole might of our minds and with the full attention of our souls. That means we should not be partial in our faith, and we either accept the fullness of faith in God or we reject it, as we cannot believe in just parts of what we need to believe, and remember that we cannot serve God and another master.

But we must also love one another, in the same way that we have loved God and in the same way as we have loved ourselves. It is easier for us to love ourselves than to love others, and indeed we have often serve ourselves and our own purposes often at the expense of others around us. Thus, shall we learn from what God had taught us, that we need to put away our ego and begin to learn to love one another sincerely and earnestly, loving them just as we love ourselves?

Let us all pray to our Almighty God and Father, that He will continue to guide us in our lives, so that we may not lose sight on the true goal of our life, that is to reach Him and be reconciled with Him in love, through the love we show to Him and also through the love and the mercy we have shown to our brothers and sisters, following the examples of the saints of the past, and to exercise love and mercy in all of our judgments and actions. God bless us all. Amen.

 

First Reading : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/24/sunday-26-october-2014-30th-sunday-of-ordinary-time-first-reading/

Second Reading : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/24/sunday-26-october-2014-30th-sunday-of-ordinary-time-second-reading/

Gospel Reading : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/24/sunday-26-october-2014-30th-sunday-of-ordinary-time-gospel-reading/

Saturday, 25 October 2014 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Luke 13 : 1-9

At that time, some people told Jesus what had occurred in the Temple : Pilate had had Galileans killed, and their blood mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.

Jesus asked them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered this? No, I tell you. But unless you change your ways, you will all perish as they did.”

“And those eighteen persons in Siloah, who were crushed when the tower fell, do you think they were more guilty than all the others in Jerusalem? I tell you : no. But unless you change your ways, you will all perish as they did.”

And Jesus continued with this story, “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it, but found none. Then he said to the gardener, ‘Look here, for three years now I have been looking for figs on this tree, and I have found none. Cut it down, why should it use up the ground?'”

“The gardener replied, ‘Leave it one more year, so that I may dig around it and add some fertiliser; perhaps it will bear fruit from now on. But if it does not, you can cut it down.'”

(Usus Antiquior) Feast of Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel (I Classis) – Monday, 29 September 2014 : Homily and Scripture Reflections

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great feast of a great protector, our great defense against the assaults of the evil one, Satan, the prince and progenitor of all evils. We celebrate today the feast of the chief of all the angelic hosts of heaven, that is St. Michael the Archangel, prince of all the angels, and chief of the seven Archangels who served before the throne of God.

The angels were created by the Lord to be His servants, that is to be the ones who carry out His will throughout the world, to be His messengers and the bearers of His good works, to exercise His power throughout the universe He had created. He created angels of many forms and kinds, and they have various tasks and functions, depending on how they were created.

Just like men, when we were first created, the angels were initially pure and blameless, free from what is now called as sin, the impurities and imperfections that blemished the purity of creation, through disobedience against the will of God. The angels too, were granted free will just like us, so that, just as we are able to choose our path and destination in life, then they too were able to choose.

But everything was good and perfect, just as our ancestors once lived in perfect peace and harmony in the gardens of Eden, the angels were all pure and immaculate, free from all evil and taints of sin, that is until the corruption and fall of Lucifer, the greatest, brightest and the mightiest of all the angels, and unfortunately, his pride too was the greatest of all the angels, his vanity and sense of superiority over others, which proved to be his greatest undoing.

While now we speak of St. Michael the Archangel as the chief of all the heavenly hosts, he was not made such because of his greatness and his power or might, neither it was because he was the most beautiful or splendid among the angels of God. It was rather because of St. Michael’s great obedience and faith in the Lord, which made him to be the greatest defender of the Lord and His beloved people against the forces of evil.

For as mentioned, that Lucifer was once the greatest and the mightiest among the angels, but this made him proud beyond any pride, and he began to plot his rise among the angels, and eventually even boasted that he would make his throne rise above the stars of God, namely the angels, to be the ruler of them, and displacing God as the ruler over all creations.

Lucifer was proud and haughty, and he was brought down, because he was thinking too highly of himself, aspiring to be the ruler of all surpassing the Creator, while he is merely a creation, albeit a glorious and great one at that. On the contrary, St. Michael was known for his great faith and piety, and the complete trust he has for the Lord. And in addition to this, he was also told to be trembling at always before the presence of God.

This does not mean that St. Michael was fearful or weak, but rather, in doing so, he actually by himself acknowledging the superiority of God, and how great God is as compared to himself. It is his humility, courage and piety which made the Lord to choose him and honour him to be the great commander of His heavenly forces. And he courageously led the forces of the faithful against the deceiver and the evil one, the fallen Lucifer, who was struck down and cast out of heaven, to suffer for eternity the fate prepared for him.

The examples of St. Michael’s faith, piety, dedication and courage therefore should become guiding lights for us to follow, that in our actions and deeds, we may model them after what St. Michael had once done, and what he is doing now, that is leading the hosts of the Lord in a constant and regular battle for the salvation of our souls, against Satan, the fallen Lucifer, and his allies, those angels who were also ensnared in his pride and vanity, and ended up rebelling against God.

We mankind are special indeed, for we are the greatest of God’s creations, including even the angels, and we are the most beloved ones of all the things which God had created. As such, while the angels who rebelled were given no second chance to turn back to the Lord, and receive forgiveness, we mankind alone had been given this gift of forgiveness, that as long as we repent our sins and rebelliousness, and if we are willing to follow the way of the Lord, we will be saved.

That is why, even though our ancestors had disobeyed the Lord, through the instigation of the snake, the form assumed by the fallen Lucifer, who wanted mankind to also follow into his rebellion, God gave us a second chance, and by no other means than to send His very own Son, part of Himself, Jesus Christ our Lord, to assume our own form, and through what He had done, He gave up His life and through His sacrifice, gained for us a new hope and a new justification in Himself.

And we also have to note that the Lord is thoroughly concerned with us, brothers and sisters in Christ. He is truly concerned about our fate, and whether we will share the fate of the devil, that is to suffer in the hell fire, or to be reunited with Himself in perfect love and harmony, just as what He intended for us at the very beginning when He first created us.

That is why, He sent us Jesus His Son, so that through what He taught His disciples, and from them passed down to us, we may all know what we need to do in order to avoid the dark fate which awaits us if we remain in our life of sin. But we need to be aware that, what Jesus said today in the Gospels, we should not interpret or take it literally, which means that if a part of our body made us to sin, then we should not chop it off just like that.

There is indeed wisdom and thought put into that kind of decision, to cut off the part that corrupts the entire body and soul, but that also means that we can no longer do good with the same part of the body, which God had given us. This is where we need to truly understand, that what the Lord means is that, we have to really do our best to excise from ourselves any actions or parts which have been great hindrances to our salvation, beginning from within ourselves.

Sin corrupts everything it touches, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, and it is caused by the accumulation of the negativity in our hearts, of which things such as pride, jealousy, hatred, greed and many others consist of. And it was this same thing that had corrupted even the greatest and the brightest of the angels into rebellion against God and therefore sinned against Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore let us renew our faith in the Lord, not by just mere empty words and promises, but also through real action and devotions, that is by following the examples of St. Michael the Archangel. Let us excise from our hearts, all evils and darkness, that we may truly become pure and worthy of the Lord once again. We can do this by sincere love and devotion to the Lord, and by listening to what He had said to us through Jesus.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all sharpen the edges of our humility and obedience to God, that we may always listen to Him and follow Him, obeying Him in His will for us rather than to listen to our own desires and pride, as Lucifer had done. Let us all not be enslaved by our emotions and pride, that we may truly rebuke Satan and let him to suffer alone the fate which he had earned for himself. Do not let him to drag us into hellfire, brethren!

Let us pray and ask for the help and intercession of St. Michael the Archangel and the holy angels, so that they may help us and protect us from all the harm which the evil one and his allies, the fallen angels had intended for us. St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, so that by the power of God, you who are the prince and leader of all the heavenly hosts, may smite down Satan and all his lies, and all those who are working their evils in our world, seeking after the ruination of all the souls of the faithful. Amen.

Sunday, 7 September 2014 : 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we come together to be with the Lord on this holy day of His, we are called together as the members of the Church of God to be responsible, loving and caring for one another, so that each one of us may help one another in our effort to seek our Lord and God, and so that all of us may be saved and be freed from the tyranny of sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Scripture readings of this day called us to ponder and reflect on the attitude we adopt in this life, and in how we live our faith in this life. Mankind are by nature a social creature, and we often need others around us as we live and as we face the daily challenges and opportunities presented before us, and how we behave would certainly be greatly affected by who we interacted with and what we did together with others around us.

That is why today in the readings, the main theme that we heard is in fact on the nature of the Church, and on how the Church should work together to ensure the salvation of all of its members, that means all of us gathered here this day, and also many others who have fallen along the way. The Church here does not refer to just the buildings and the institution of the Church as we know it. The Church of God as a whole, is the assembly and the gathering of all the faithful ones in Christ, united to His Body, as a member of the same Body by which we are made one, and made righteous in the Blood of the Lamb of God.

That is why in the Church, the whole Church refers to the entire body of the faithful, all over the world, from the greatest to the least, from the Pope to the common layman, from the ordained ministers and the religious brothers and sisters to all common faithful ones like us, and from the youngest ones to the oldest, and both the newly baptised and those who had been long counted among the faithful.

Following the tradition and teachings established by Jesus as we read in the Gospel today, the Church indeed rightly should be concerned on the fate of the faithful and the salvation of their souls. Why is this so? This is because mankind are by nature disobedient, restless and easily manipulated, and we are also easily tempted by our own personal ego, pride and other emotions, which in many cases likely resulted in us drifting away further and further from God and into damnation.

That was why over the course of the past two millenia, since the establishment of the Church and the faith, countless peoples have tried to subvert the faith and to corrupt it to suit their own purposes. And worse still, they did so not just for themselves, but they also spread their false ideas and teachings to many others around them and thus condemning and risking not just themselves, but also many others who are around them and even those entrusted to their care.

Among these could be counted the ranks of princes, kings, lords, even priests, bishops and the top hierarchy of the Church at times, and also among the laity, the educated, the rich and the poor. What they have thought about, spoke about and taught about were incompatible to the faith and what Jesus had taught to His disciples. In time, the Church came up with varieties of words to describe their actions, that is anathema, heresy and many others.

Those who studied the history of the Church and the faith must have been surprised by the staggering number of times the punishment and measure known best as excommunication, had been used. And in fact, excommunication remains to be used this day to correct the behaviour and awaken the spirit of repentance of those whose ideas and teachings are in direct or indirect contradiction to the faith and to the teachings of the Church.

Many detractors of this measure had argued and even became violently opposed to the actions of the Church both in the past and in the present, so that they criticised the use of excommunications as a tool to remove opposition to the Church and to gain more influence for itself. And some even alleged that the Church used them to silence the voice of those who wanted for reform or change in the Church.

Yes, it is true indeed that sometimes, excommunication had been used inappropriately, but in most cases, they have been intended not to punish, but to awaken the spirit of repentance and genuine desire to seek forgiveness from the Lord, which is that desire to admit their errors and return to the full embrace of the loving God through His Church.

We have to first understand the history of how excommunication come about, using what we know from the Scriptures and from what we heard today in the readings, especially from what Jesus mentioned in the Gospel today. In the past, during the time of the people of Israel, after the Exodus, God gave them His laws, commandments and precepts through Moses.

In that Law, some dealt with how certain people should be treated. Those who were found to have the disease of leprosy were obliged to leave their houses and the community of the faithful, and they have to wander outside the community, in the barrens and the desert until they are healed or cured. And when this was so, they had to show themselves to the priests who would certify them to return once more to the society.

Indeed, it was inevitable that those who contracted leprosy at that time to be ostracised and intimidated against by the rest of the society. They were considered to be uncleaned and as leprosy can spread from one person to another, this helped the exclusion and the bad treatment of the leprosy patients, even after they had been cured from their afflictions. But God did not intend for this to happen.

And in a similar spirit, the Lord Jesus told us through His disciples precisely how to deal with those among us in the Church who had contracted the same ‘leprosy’. This leprosy no longer refers to the physical disease that affects the body, but in fact refers to the leprosy of the soul, that is the degeneration of the state of our faith and soul to the point that we become defiant and unwilling to listen and to obey the teachings of the Church and the fundamentals of our faith.

We have many peoples such as these, and what I am going to mention to you are not the only ones there are out there. The Gnostics of the second century after the birth of Christ mixed the teachings of the faith with the contemporary pagan religions, idols and philosophical pursuits that ended up as a syncretic movement and faith totally incompatible with our true faith.

Then came the Arians, the Donatists, the Monophysites and others who taught doctrines incompatible against the faith, and who tried to subvert the faithful to their cause, telling them lies and inaccurate statements about the faith, on the nature of Jesus our Lord Himself, so that the people who were confused were easy to lure into their corrupting hold. As such, many were led away from salvation in God and into damnation, despite the best efforts by those in the Church to resist and fight back against their corrupting influences.

Then we have many others like the the Albigensians or the Cathars, the Hussians, the Bogomils, Paulicians, Iconoclasts who taught numerous lies and confused theology to the faithful, ending up in corrupting the people in the same way, pulling them away from salvation in the Church into damnation and eternal suffering in hellfire. Those people were misguided by many who thought that their human wisdom were better than the teachings of the Lord preserved in the traditions of the Church and the faith.

Then lastly came the great heresy of the Protestant ‘reformation’, where many of the faithful came to take it on themselves to rebel against the authority of the Church and by willingly splitting themselves from the Church, a rebellion which continues even to this day. Yes, we have so many Protestant denominations, to the point that it may not be wrong to say that there are as many denominations, or splinter groups as there are heads.

People like King Henry VIII, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Zwingli and many other prominent persona of the Protestant ‘reformations’ like many others before them, Arian, Jan Hus, and others were truly the one mentioned by Jesus as the brethren who refused to listen to reason and chose to break away from the Church. They walked their own path, in open rebellion against God and the Church, leading and guiding many people into their rebellion and thus condemned countless souls to damnation.

The effects of their actions can still be felt today. Many remained separate from the Church and thus from the grace of God, and the lies perpetuated by those leaders mentioned earlier and their successors continued to poison their thoughts and that is why many remained with great contempt to the Church and all it represented.

The Church excommunicated them as well as many of the earlier members of the Church, who even included high ranking nobles and clergymen, and even kings, as they have erred in their path. However, as I have mentioned earlier, the purpose of this move was not to punish those afflicted, but rather to make them realise of the gravity of their errors, so that they may come to understand how their actions had caused grief wounds on the fabric of the Church and the faithful.

And thus, many of those who had been excommunicated had returned to the Church in penitence and seeking God’s forgiveness. A famous example would be that of the excommunication of Emperor Theodosius I of the Roman Empire, who was cut off from the communion of the Church by the famous St. Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, for the Emperor’s implicit and direct role in a massacre of the city of Thessalonica, where thousands of the faithful were ruthlessly murdered and the city ransacked.

The meaning of excommunication itself was to exclude the person afflicted from the Communion of the Church, and if this word sounds familiar, that is indeed what we receive in the Holy Communion, which is none other than the Most Precious Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Real Presence of the Most Holy Eucharist. All of us in the Church belongs to the Church, that is the Body of Christ precisely because all of us received the same Eucharist and thus are united to each other through our unity with the Lord.

And when a person is excommunicated, like that of the Emperor Theodosius and many others, they were severed from this unity and communion, and thus they were not able to receive the Eucharist, as they were also in a state of sin, and they were not able to exercise anything pertinent to the faith. Thus, that was why Jesus mentioned that those ought to be treated like a pagan or a publican, that means outside the Church, just like the lepers of old.

However, once again, the focus here is on mercy, and on the desire to see these people attaining forgiveness and justification, becoming once again a member of the Church and thus capable of attaining salvation once again. And to wrap up the story on the Emperor Theodosius, the Emperor went on to make a public display of humility and penance, wearing sackcloth to the Church and was once again welcomed into the Church by Bishop St. Ambrose.

That is, brothers and sisters in Christ, the purpose and intention of excommunication. Not as a punishment, but as a means through which the wayward ones and the staunchly rebellious among us may find our way back to God through the Church, through sincere repentance and penitence. Sadly, of course, many of those names and groups mentioned earlier never repented their sins and continued in their rebellions, some of which continued even today.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on these readings of today, let us recall the words of God to the prophet Ezekiel, how the faithful are tasked with the guardianship of the faith of one another, which means that we should be ready to intervene whenever we see around us there are those who begin to veer away from the path of the Lord.

It is only then if the person persisted in their rebelliousness, then we should refer it to the Church as a whole, and if he or she continued to persist to disobey the Lord, only then they should be cast out of the assembly of the faithful, in what we know as the excommunication, hoping that the person may in that time that remains for him or her, found his or her way back to the Lord and repent.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore work together to maintain the unity and the faith in the Church. May Almighty God guide us in our endeavours and help us to keep this faith alive and well. Let us all renew our commitment to the Lord and awaken in one another the love we truly should have for God, casting away all impurities and unworthiness. Let us all not reject and condemn those who have sinned and erred, and those who had been excommunicated, for indeed, many saints too were once sinners and excommunicants, who returned to the Lord and be reconciled with the Church. May God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 7 September 2014 : 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Ezekiel 33 : 7-9

For your part, son of man, I have set you as a watchman for Israel, and when you hear My word, you must give them My warning.

When I say to the wicked : “Wicked man, you shall die for sure,” if you do not warn the wicked man to turn from his ways, he will die because of his sin, but I will also call you to account for his blood.

If you warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you yourself will be saved.

Sunday, 10 August 2014 : 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, is our faith in God truly genuine and strong? And is our faith in the Lord solid and growing? Or is it that we doubt God and His love just because in our lives He may seem to not be around whenever we say that we need Him? Do we doubt God because we are not able to feel His presence around us when we are in dire trouble?

These questions are meant for us to ask ourselves and for us to do a self-introspection, on our faith, and what our faith truly meant for us. The story of Jesus walking on the water in the midst of a heavy storm that threatened to sink the ship where the disciples were on is a classic story of how mankind are often faced with persecution and difficulties in life, and yet God will definitely not abandon us. He has given us none other than Jesus to rescue us and to strengthen our faith.

Indeed, in the first reading today we also heard how God appeared to Elijah the prophet, when he was fleeing from the persecution of the king of Israel, Ahab in the middle of the desert. He found God, or YHVH, not in the midst of great and mighty phenomena of earthquakes, fires or windstorm, but in the gentleness and sweetness of a breeze of gentle wind.

God did not abandon mankind when we are in great troubles or difficulties, and instead, He showed His loving and caring persona, as He had shown to Elijah. As much as He is mighty and great, He is also thoroughly concerned with us, as what He had shown to Elijah and in that, showed the love He had for mankind who still lived in the darkness. That is the message that God wanted to make clear with the people, that He cared for them.

And in the Gospel, we heard how the ship where the disciples were in was rocked by heavy winds and strong winds, to the point that it almost sank and be destroyed. This is in fact a perfect representation of our own lives that are filled with challenges and difficulties from all corners and sources. Life is never easy, and especially if we choose to walk the path of the Lord, things will be stormy and difficult for us.

That is why, first we must have a strong anchor of faith, and this anchor must be established on none other than the strong foundation of faith we have in our Lord and God. Otherwise, we and our lives, which are represented by the ship, will be blown here and there, and torn asunder by the waves, showing how our lives will be ruined and our purpose in life corrupted by the lack of a strong and living faith.

In all this, God is around, and He is there for us. But often that we do not believe that He is there for us. That is perfectly represented as well, when Jesus appeared on the waters and the disciples were gripped with fear, thinking that He was a ghost, utterly filled with disbelief and doubt that Jesus could be there, and right there for them and to help them.

It is much too often that we are filled to the brim with despair, fear and concerns for ourselves, that first we failed to notice the love that God has for us, thinking that we had been abandoned, and we also often fail to notice the difficulties and challenges that our brothers and sisters around us are facing, for we are too preoccupied with our own selves. Then that is also why we often cry out to God why our lives are unfair, while we actually failed to realise the truth.

We need to be able to discern and learn to get rid of the distractions and lies that prevented us from seeing the Lord at work in our lives, and that was what was shown in the first reading today. Elijah was able to see that God is not in things in mighty and great beyond our reach, just as He was not in the windstorm, fire or earthquakes, but instead in the gentle breeze showing His care and love for us.

If we are able to pierce through the layers of bias, prejudice, fear, desire, and other things that prevented us from truly understanding God’s love, we will then be able to feel the real and holy Presence of our Lord with us. We will then realise that our Lord and God is there for us, and He is always with us especially when we are in difficulties and challenging times. He never left our side. It is we who had voluntarily left Him behind for other things, and for Satan.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to admit that our faith is often weak and shaky, and the foundation of our faith is not strong, and when challenges and difficulties come our way, we often act like Peter, who doubted the Lord and His providence and ended up sinking when he walked on the water. Our faith can often be challenged and be negatively affected by the fears and concerns that we have in our hearts.

That is why we have to learn to trust in our Lord, and know that He is there for us when we need Him. He gives us many chances and opportunities, as well as help along the way in various means. What is important that, if we are in trouble, He is there for us, giving us help, and often we do not realise this fact. When Peter wavered in his faith and was sinking, what did Jesus do? Precisely, He stretched out His hands immediately to help Peter out and pull him out to safety.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us use the opportunities given to us in order to reflect and come to a greater realisation that we have been blessed with a loving and caring God who is utterly concerned about our fate and about every single thing that we do in this life of ours. Let us all be no longer ignorant of God’s love, and instead let us make the conscious effort to strengthen our faith.

This boat that is our life will always be rocked by strong waves and winds, that represent the temptations of sin and evil, and all the forces that the devil has assembled in order to bring us and drag us into hell and suffering with him. Shall we follow him into destruction? No, we should not. We should not let this good-for-nothing fallen angel and wrecker of lives and souls from messing with our destiny. We have to reject him, rebuke him and cast him out of our lives in perfect totality.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be courageous in our lives that our faith may be ever more solid and strong, and be able to resist the temptations of the evil one at any turns in our lives. May Almighty God continue to love us, bless us, and grant us with His grace and abundant blessings. Amen.

Monday, 28 July 2014 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear yet again how Christ taught the people and His disciples using parables, or stories with meaning hidden in the story. Jesus did this with a purpose, namely to make it easy for them to understand the concepts about God, His kingdom and His plans by using the stories related to their daily life experiences.

In the first reading, taken from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah from the Old Testament, God also showed Jeremiah His intentions using a similar method, using the linen belt and use it, as well as burying it until it is destroyed, in order to bring about His intentions for His people. This, together with the parables which Christ told His people today, all have the same central idea and lesson, that is, we have good in us, and all of us have the power to make a difference in both our own lives and in the lives of others. But if we remain dormant, then we are useless and will be cast away.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters? Surely some will think that God is kind of harsh, is He not? But if we truly understand His intentions, we will know that He meant good for us. He wants us to be awakened from our deep slumber and from our inaction, as well as from any wickedness that we have committed in this life which separated us from our loving God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have to realise that if a mustard seed is not planted on the ground, or if no concrete effort and hard work are done on it when we plant it, then the mustard seed will forever remain as a seed, and it will die instead of sprouting and growing to be such a large tree as Jesus had mentioned. The same is also for yeast and bread, for if the yeast is kept separate from the bread, or if the yeast and bread mixture is not given the optimum condition, then the bread that is hard and not delicious will just remain as that.

We all know that when we make bread, in order to make the bread fluffy and having a nice texture, as well as being delicious, we need to add yeast into it, and not just that, but we have to seal the bread to allow the yeast to work. If we do everything correctly, and give the correct conditions for the bread, then it will rise and a delicious bread will come out as a result. Similarly, if we give the correct and best conditions for the mustard seed, it will grow big and healthy as a large and bountiful mustard tree.

What we can learn from these parables that Christ told us is that, if we put in our best effort in order to make the seeds of faith, hope and love that are in us to be able to grow, then they will grow optimally and they will produce wonderful and plentiful fruits of faith, of hope and of love. Then our Lord who sees that we bear much fruits and products, will love us and be gracious to us, and He will care for us for ever and ever.

If we have not done so, and if we have not bore any fruits or products, or having no good or concrete outcome from our lives, then we need to realise that we still have a chance. God is a loving and merciful God, and He likes to give us another chance every time whenever we sin and whenever we go against His will and follow Satan instead. But this is not without limit, and in the end, if we persist in our rebelliousness, we will be cast away to suffer for eternity with Satan and his angels in the endless sea of fire.

What God told Jeremiah using the example of the linen belt is no different, for a belt has its purpose, to keep our shirt and garments tied carefully to our bodies, but if it is kept in places unfavourable, then it will be destroyed and be of no use to anyone, and therefore it will be kept away and cast into the fire. It is important therefore to realise that we have been given much abilities and gifts in our respective lives from God, but we have often not realised this or even use them for the sake of evil, or for hurting and for the disadvantage of others.

We have much potential, brothers and sisters in Christ, both for good and for evil. Ultimately, it is up to us, whether we choose good over evil, or vice versa. Let us all not be those who choose evil over good, choosing to fulfill our own selfish desires and keep all the goods and seeds that God had planted in us and allow them to wither and perish. Instead, let us go forth and give the best possible condition for those seeds to grow, that all who look at us will know, that we come from God and that we belong to Him because we walk in His path.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all work together, that we may grow stronger in our faith, and turn our dormant lives into one that is filled with the graces and love of God, and in our actions, may we all be courageous to bring love and happiness to one another, that we may truly be called children of our loving God, and be saved at the end of all things. Amen.