(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 26 March 2016 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Genesis 22 : 1-18

Some time later God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he answered, “Here I am.” Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I shall point out to you.”

Abraham rose early next morning and saddled his donkey and took with him two of his young men and his son Isaac. He chopped wood for the burnt offering and set out for the place to which God had directed him.

On the third day, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance, and he said to the young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to worship and then we will come back to you.”

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. He carried in his hand the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke to Abraham, his father, “Father!” And Abraham replied, “Yes, my son?” Isaac said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” Abraham replied, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the sacrifice.”

They went on, the two of them together, until they came to the place to which God had directed them. When Abraham had built the altar and set the wood on it, he bound his son Isaac and laid him on the wood placed on the altar. He then stretched out his hand to seize the knife and slay his son. But the Angel of YHVH called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

And he said, “Here I am.” “Do not lay your hand on the boy; do not harm him, for now I know that you fear God, and you have not held back from Me your only son.”

Abraham looked around and saw behind him a ram caught by its horns in a bush. He offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the place ‘The Lord will provide.’ And the saying has lasted to this day.

And the Angel of YHVH called from heaven a second time, “By Myself I have sworn, it is YHVH who speaks, because you have done this and not held back your son, your only son. I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.

“Your descendants will take possession of the lands of their enemies. All the nations of the earth will be blessed through your descendants because you have obeyed Me.”

 

Alternative reading (Shorter version)

Genesis 22 : 1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18

Some time later God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he answered, “Here I am.” Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I shall point out to you.”

They came to the place to which God had directed them. He then stretched out his hand to seize the knife and slay his son. But the Angel of YHVH called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

And he said, “Here I am.” “Do not lay your hand on the boy; do not harm him, for now I know that you fear God, and you have not held back from Me your only son.”

Abraham looked around and saw behind him a ram caught by its horns in a bush. He offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son.

And the Angel of YHVH called from heaven a second time, “By Myself I have sworn, it is YHVH who speaks, because you have done this and not held back your son, your only son. I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.

“Your descendants will take possession of the lands of their enemies. All the nations of the earth will be blessed through your descendants because you have obeyed Me.”

Monday, 12 May 2014 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Sts. Nereus and Achilleus, Martyrs, and St. Pancras, Martyr (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are affirmed with the love of the Lord, who had given us that love through His gift of Jesus, His only beloved Son to us, as a fitting sacrificial victim and the intermediary between us sinners to He who is perfect in heaven. Through Christ all were made worthy of the Lord and were promised the glorious eternal life in heaven.

Yes, and this promise was extended to all mankind, to all the beloved creations of the Lord Most High, and not just to a certain group of people. If we read the Old Testament, it is very easy for us to have the misconception that the people of Israel, or the Jews, are the chosen people of God, whom the Lord chose over all the other nations.

God did choose the descendants of Jacob, and therefore, the descendants of Abraham, to be His first chosen, to be the ones to whom He first revealed Himself to, and the ones to whom He revealed His will and His love. But this does not mean that God excludes all the other nations from His love. He loved them equally just the same, just as we have our breath of life every single moments of our lives.

The shepherd, Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd of all the people of God, did not choose favourites among His people. Indeed, He came first to the Jews, just as His Father had first chosen them to be His people. But this does not mean that His salvation is intended only for them to the exclusion and damnation of all the other nations.

He loves us all, and wishes us all to be saved, and therefore, that is why He commended the disciples to go and spread the Good News to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. That is His intention, and He desires that we all be reunited with God in eternal bliss of splendour and happiness. And thus, He sanctifies all mankind through His death and resurrection.

We must never be haughty and judge ourselves, just like the Jews who thought themselves of being worthy of salvation, because they misunderstood the intentions and actions of the Lord as one of favouritism, particularly the chief priests and the Pharisees. They judged themselves worthy and condemned others who did not share their opinions, to the point of persecuting Jesus and His followers in their ministry.

God showed His mercy to mankind, and He forgave them all, on the account of His love and dedication for them. The Lord is loving to all, and He readily shows His love for us all. He comforts us when we suffer and when we are sad, and He lifts us up when we fall down into despair and hopelessness. He shows His care for us without any discrimination.

Today we celebrate the feast of many saints, namely St. Nereus and Achilles, as well as St. Pancras, all of whom were slaves and servants of the Empress or Augusta of the early era Roman Empire. They were the servants of the wife of the Emperor Domitian or Domitianus, who was infamous for his great persecutions against the faithful and the Church, who carried out the one of the great persecution against the Church.

They were martyred in the defense of their faith, and they refused to recant their devotion and commitment to the Lord. They stayed faithful to the end and received holy martyrdom, and now they are revered by us in the Church as saints of the holy Church, worthy of heaven and interceding for our sake daily before the Lord.

In their example, we see how even the people considered to be unworthy by many in Jesus’ time can become saints and holy martyrs, by their following of the teachings of the Lord and by walking faithfully in His ways. Thus, we too should not be afraid and instead, walk courageously in the footsteps of these holy men to be also faithful disciples of the Lord and be courageous in our works, that we may bring even more souls to salvation.

May the Lord open our minds and hearts today, that we will learn to be inclusive and not to exclude others or be judgmental, and instead be humble in seeking the Lord’s forgiveness and love. May He guide us always that we may approach ever closer to His throne of mercy and to His loving embrace. Amen.

Thursday, 17 April 2014 : Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Easter Triduum (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the first Mass ever celebrated, that is when Jesus gave Himself in the form of His own Precious Body and Blood in the bread and wine to His disciples during the last supper He had with them before His Passion and death.

Today we celebrate that moment when Christ laid bare the love He has for all of us, and gave Himself completely for us through the gift of Himself. This gift He made freely to all of us providing we accept this gift and therefore accept the Lord as our God and Saviour. This Holy or Maundy Thursday is the birth of the Mass and the Church, because it is at this moment we celebrate that Jesus instituted the centre of our faith, the Real Presence in the Eucharist.

Today’s celebration centres on the loving nature of our God, in how great is His love and dedication for us, that He is willing to come down and stoop to be our servant, giving His all to liberate us from the snare of death and return us to the embrace of the Father. That was why He also showed His loving nature, by showing it through real action and service.

He lowered Himself to take the role of a servant, and even like that of a slave, by washing the feet of His own disciples and dry them with a towel wrapped about His waist. This is a job only done by servants and slaves, the lowest and the meanest job in the society, and one that is looked down upon by the people. He did this to show that, while He is the all-powerful Lord and Master of all, but He also cared for all of us so much, that He showed the love not by mere words, but also through action.

And how is the action of the washing of the feet significant in this? That is because, mankind had long been swallowed by their sins and lived in great darkness. Mankind had forgotten what is meant by love, not just any love, but the great love of God. That is why men end up being individualistic and grew to care only about themselves and whatever it is that benefits them.

And as you all know, brethren, the greatest of sins is pride, the same that had brought down Lucifer, now known as the devil into sin and rebellion against God. Mankind had grow to love themselves and care only for their well-being, that the self, the ego is growing greater and greater. As a result, mankind also grew less and less capable to love and care for one another and this results in mankind progressing deeper and deeper in their sinfulness.

The Lord Jesus showed by example, that power and greatness do not have to come together with greed, self-centredness and ego. Indeed, He showed that the greater a person is, the more humble he or she should become. And that the essence of leadership is service, that service is when someone uses His abilities and powers to help others to achieve the same thing as that someone could achieve on his own.

On this moment that we commemorate, the Last Supper, Jesus showed His disciples how they should treat one another, by sharing with each other the love God had given them, and hence by doing so, they themselves will grow greater and greater in love and in the grace of God, while being examples for others to follow.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today is truly a great day for all of us, because not only just that the Lord gave concrete proofs of His love for us by giving us none other than His own Precious Body and Blood to have, so that we may have life in Him, but He also showed us through His disciples, how to live our lives that it will be meaningful and filled with grace.

As Christians we have to live up to the examples of Christ, and indeed listen to what Jesus told His disciples, that they ought to do what He had done to one another. We cannot be apathetic as Christians, for the moment that we fail to show care and love for one another, we should indeed no longer be referred to as Christians or as the followers of Christ.

On this day, Jesus gave Himself completely to us, and He surrendered even His life so that we may live. This is the essence and the heart of Christian love and Christian life. Therefore, as we keep vigil tonight with the Lord, let us be reminded of God’s gift to us and also His call for us that we may be true Christians, putting into practice our faith and what Christ had taught us.

May the Lord continue to bless us, and through the Real Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist, may the Lord continue to nourish us with His own flesh and blood that we may always be strong, always be faithful and always be true to our Lord and His words. God be with us all and His blessing be with us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, World Day of the Sick (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Marian feast)

Mark 7 : 1-13

One day the Pharisees gathered around Jesus, and with them were some teachers of the Law who had just come from Jerusalem. They noticed that some of His disciples were eating their meal with unclean hands, that is, without washing them.

Now the Pharisees, and in fact all the Jews, never eat without washing their hands, for they follow the tradition received from their ancestors. Nor do they eat anything, when they come from the market, without first washing themselves. And there are many other traditions they observe; for example, the ritual washing of cups, pots and plates.

So the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders, but eat with unclean hands?” Jesus answered, “You shallow people! How well Isaiah prophesied of you when he wrote : ‘This people honours Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. The worship they offer Me is worthless, for what they teach are only human rules.'”

“You even put aside the commandment of God to hold fast to human tradition.” And Jesus commented, “You have a fine way of disregarding the commandments of God in order to enforce your own traditions! For example, Moses said : ‘Do your duty to your father and your mother,’ and : ‘Whoever curses his father or his mother is to be put to death.'”

“But according to you, someone could say to his father or mother, ‘I already declared Corban, which means ‘offered to God’ what you could have expected from me.’ In this case, you no longer require him to do anything for his father or mother, and so you nullify the word of God through the tradition you have handed on. And you do many other things like that.”

Alternative Reading (Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes)

John 2 : 1-11

Three days later there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus was also invited to the wedding with His disciples. When all the wine provided for the celebration had been served, and they had run out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

Jesus replied, “Woman, what concern is that to you and Me? My hour has not yet come.” However his mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” Nearby were six stone water jars, set there for ritual washing as practiced by the Jews; each jar could hold twenty or thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them to the brim. Then Jesus said, “Now draw some out and take it to the steward.” So they did. The steward tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing from where it had come; for only the servants who had drawn the water knew.

So, he called the bridegroom to tell him, “Everyone serves the best wine first, and when people have drunk enough, he serves that which is ordinary. Instead you have kept the best wine until the end.”

This miraculous sign was the first, and Jesus performed it at Cana in Galilee. In this way He let His glory appear, and His disciples believed in Him.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John of Capestrano, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Luke 12 : 39-48

Jesus said, “Pay attention to this : If the master of the house had known at what time the thief would come, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect.”

Peter said, “Lord, did You tell this parable only for us, or for everyone?” And the Lord replied, “Imagine, then, the wise and faithful steward, whom the master sets over his other servants to give them wheat at the proper time. Fortunate is this servant if his master on coming home, finds him doing his work. Truly, I say to you, the master will put him in charge of all his property.”

“But it may be that the steward thinks, ‘My Lord delays in coming,’ and he begins to abuse the male servants and the servant girls, eating and drinking and getting drunk. Then the master will come on a day he does not expect, and at an hour he does not know. He will cut him off, and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.”

“The servant who knew his master’s will, but did not prepare and do what his master wanted, will be soundly beaten; but the one who does unconsciously what deserves punishment, shall receive fewer blows. Much will be required of the one who has been given much, and more will be asked of the one who has been entrusted with more.”

Tuesday, 14 May 2013 : 7th Week of Easter, Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

John 15 : 9-17

As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. Remain in My love! You will remain in My love if you keep My commandments, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.

I have told you all this, that My own joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete. This is My commandment : Love one another as I have loved you! There is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friends; and you are My friends, if you do what I command you.

I shall not call you servants anymore, because servants do not know what their master is about. Instead I have called you friends, since I have made known to you everything I learnt from My Father.

You did not choose Me; it was I who chose you and sent you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. And everything you ask the Father in My Name, He will give you. This is My command, that you love one another.

Saturday, 13 April 2013 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Martin I, Pope and Martyr (First Reading)

Acts 6 : 1-7

In those days, as the number of disciples grew, the so-called Hellenists complained against the so-called Hebrews, because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. So the Twelve summoned the whole body of disciples together and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God to serve at tables.”

“So, friends, choose from among yourselves, seven respected men full of Spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them to this task. As for us, we shall give ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.”

The whole community agreed and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and Holy Spirit; Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenus, and Nicolaus of Antioch who was a proselyte. They presented these men to the apostles who first prayed over them and then laid hands upon them.

The Word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly and even many priests accepted the faith.

(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 30 March 2013 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Second Reading)

Genesis 22 : 1-18

Some time later God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he answered, “Here I am.” Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I shall point out to you.”

Abraham rose early next morning and saddled his donkey and took with him two of his young men and his son Isaac. He chopped wood for the burnt offering and set out for the place to which God had directed him.

On the third day, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance, and he said to the young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to worship and then we will come back to you.”

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. He carried in his hand the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke to Abraham, his father, “Father!” And Abraham replied, “Yes, my son?” Isaac said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” Abraham replied, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the sacrifice.”

They went on, the two of them together, until they came to the place to which God had directed them. When Abraham had built the altar and set the wood on it, he bound his son Isaac and laid him on the wood placed on the altar. He then stretched out his hand to seize the knife and slay his son. But the Angel of YHVH called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

And he said, “Here I am.” “Do not lay your hand on the boy; do not harm him, for now I know that you fear God, and you have not held back from Me your only son.”

Abraham looked around and saw behind him a ram caught by its horns in a bush. He offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the place ‘The Lord will provide.’ And the saying has lasted to this day.

And the Angel of YHVH called from heaven a second time, “By Myself I have sworn, it is YHVH who speaks, because you have done this and not held back your son, your only son. I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.

“Your descendants will take possession of the lands of their enemies. All the nations of the earth will be blessed through your descendants because you have obeyed Me.”

 

Alternative reading (Shorter version)

 

Genesis 22 : 1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18

Some time later God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he answered, “Here I am.” Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I shall point out to you.”

They came to the place to which God had directed them. He then stretched out his hand to seize the knife and slay his son. But the Angel of YHVH called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

And he said, “Here I am.” “Do not lay your hand on the boy; do not harm him, for now I know that you fear God, and you have not held back from Me your only son.”

Abraham looked around and saw behind him a ram caught by its horns in a bush. He offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son.

And the Angel of YHVH called from heaven a second time, “By Myself I have sworn, it is YHVH who speaks, because you have done this and not held back your son, your only son. I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.

“Your descendants will take possession of the lands of their enemies. All the nations of the earth will be blessed through your descendants because you have obeyed Me.”

Saturday, 2 March 2013 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Luke 15 : 1-3, 11-32

Meanwhile tax collectors and sinners were seeking the company of Jesus, all of the eager to hear what He had to say. But the Pharisees and the scribes frowned at this, muttering, “This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So Jesus told them this parable.

Jesus continued, “There was a man with two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Give me my share of the estate.’ So the father divided his property between them. Some days later, the younger son gathered all his belongings, and started off for a distant land, where he squandered his wealth in loose living.”

“Having spent everything, he was hard pressed when a severe famine broke out in that land. So he hired himself out to a well-to-do citizen of that place, and was sent to work on a pig farm. So famished was he, that he longed to fill his stomach even with the food given to the pigs, but no one offered him anything.”

“Finally coming to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will get up and go back to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against God, and before you. I no longer deserve to be called your son. Treat me then as one of your hired servants.’ With that thought in mind, he set off for his father’s house.”

“He was still a long way off, when his father caught sight of him. His father was so deeply moved with compassion that he ran out to meet him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. The son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.'”

“But the father turned to his servants : ‘Quick!’ he said, ‘Bring out the finest robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! Take the fattened calf and kill it! We shall celebrate and have a feast, for this son of min was dead, and has come back to life; he was lost and is found!’ And the celebration began.”

“Meanwhile, the elder son had been working in the fields. As he returned and approached the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what it was all about. The servant answered, ‘Your brother has come home safe and sound, and your father is so happy about it that he has ordered this celebration, and killed the fattened calf.'”

The elder son became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and pleaded with him. The son, very indignant, said, ‘Look, I have slaved for you all these years. Never have I disobeyed your orders. Yet you have never given me even a young goat to celebrate with my friends. Then when this son of yours returns, after squandering your property with loose women, you kill the fattened calf for him.'”

“The father said, ‘My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But this brother of yours was dead, and has come back to life; he was lost, and is found. And for that we had to rejoice and be glad.'”

Friday, 1 March 2013 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Matthew 21 : 33-43, 45-46

“Listen to another example : There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a fence around it, dug a hole for the winepress, built a watchtower, leased the vineyard to tenants, and then went to a distant country. When harvest time came, the landowner sent his servants to the tenants to collect his share of the harvest. But the tenants seized his servants, beat one, killed another, and stoned a third.”

“Again the owner sent more servants, but they were treated in the same way. Finally, he sent his son, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they thought, “This is the one who is to inherit the vineyard. Let us kill him, and his inheritance will be ours.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.”

“Now, what will the owner of the vineyard do with the tenants when he comes?” They said to Him, “He will bring those evil men to an evil end, and lease the vineyard to others, who will pay him in due time.”

And Jesus replied, “Have you never read what the Scriptures say? The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and we marvel at it. Therefore I say to you : the kingdom of heaven will be taken from you, and given to a people who will yield a harvest.”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard these parables, they realised that Jesus was referring to them. They would have arrested Him, but they were afraid of the crowd, who regarded Him as a prophet.