Sunday, 25 September 2022 : Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 16 : 19-31

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and feasted every day. At his gate lay Lazarus, a poor man covered with sores, who longed to eat just the scraps falling from the rich man’s table. Even dogs used to come and lick his sores.”

“It happened that the poor man died, and Angels carried him to take his place with Abraham. The rich man also died, and was buried. From hell where he was in torment, the rich man looked up and saw Abraham afar off, and with him Lazarus at rest. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me, and send Lazarus, with the tip of his finger dipped in water, to cool my tongue, for I suffer so much in this fire.'”

“Abraham replied, ‘My son, remember that in your lifetime you were well-off, while the lot of Lazarus was misfortune. Now he is in comfort, and you are in agony. But that is not all. Between your place and ours a great chasm has been fixed, so that no one can cross over from here to you, or from your side to us.'”

“The rich man implored once more, ‘Then I beg you, Father Abraham, to send Lazarus to my father’s house, where my five brothers live, let him warn them, so that they may not end up in this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.'”

“But the rich man said, ‘No, Father Abraham; but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced, even if someone rises from the dead.'”

Monday, 6 March 2017 : 1st Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Matthew 25 : 31-46

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory with all His Angels, He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be brought before Him, and as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, so will He do with them, placing the sheep on His right hand and the goats on His left.”

“The King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, blessed of My Father! Take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed Me into your house. I was naked, and you clothed Me. I was sick, and you visited Me. I was in prison, and you came to see Me.'”

“Then the good people will ask Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and give You food; thirsty, and give You something to drink; or a stranger, and welcome You; or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and go to see You?’ The King will answer, ‘Truly I say to you : whenever you did this to these little ones who are My brothers and sisters, you did it to Me.'”

“Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Go, cursed people, out of My sight into the eternal fire, which has been prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry, and you did not give Me anything to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not welcome Me into your house; I was naked, and you did not clothe Me; I was sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.'”

“They, too, will ask, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, thirsty, naked or a stranger, sick or in prison, and did not help You?’ The King will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you : whatever you did not do for one of these little ones, you did not do it for Me.’ And these will go into eternal punishment, but the just to eternal life.”

Sunday, 23 November 2014 : 34th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Memorial of Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr, and St. Columban, Abbot (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great feast day and solemnity of the Church, that is the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ the King, King of all creation and of all the universe. This celebration also marks the ending of our liturgical year, as next Sunday we will begin the season of Advent in preparation for Christmas, and this Sunday is the last great celebration of a liturgical year in the calendar of the Church celebrations.

And the theme of the Kingship of Christ ties closely to the future promised coming of our Lord Jesus into this world. The readings for this period, including the readings for today’s solemn occasion therefore is a reflection of this truth and this fact, that God will come again at a time He has appointed, and He will come again to judge all the living and the dead, as we believe in our Faith. In this we hope, as He will come again to gather us from the nations and bring us to His eternal love and glory.

As the Lord mentioned in the first reading, taken from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, even though mankind and the people of God had sinned and therefore suffered its consequences, being torn apart as a people and scattered through the nations, He did not abandon them, but still loved them all the same. At the time of the prophet Ezekiel, the northern kingdom of Israel had been destroyed by the Assyrians and its people brought into slavery and exile. The same had also happened to the southern kingdom of Judah, which population was brought to Babylon in a period known as the Babylonian captivity.

While those things had happened because of the sins of the people, who were not faithful to the covenant of the Lord, but it does not mean that God did not give them a second chance. If only that they would repent and change their sinful and evil ways, and adopt the ways of the righteous, then the Lord who is their Lord and Shepherd will gladly welcome them back into His embrace.

The psalm today is the renowned Psalm on ‘the Lord is my Shepherd’, which shows the nature of God as our loving Shepherd, as our Guide and as the provider of everything that we will ever need. And while we follow our Shepherd, who is the Lord, we will have no need to fear anything, as neither the power of the evil one nor the powers of this world and the evils in it have any power over us if we are ever faithful and solidly attach ourselves to our Lord and our Shepherd.

This is the nature of our Lord and Master’s Kingship, that is a Shepherd Kingship, not one where the king enslaves everyone to do his bidding and will, but instead a servant leadership. Remember what Lord Jesus did on the day of the Last Supper, when He acted as a servant, washing the feet of all His disciples. He taught the Apostles that a leader should lead by giving examples and serving others entrusted under his care, and not to lord over the other or even to oppress them.

And like a shepherd, who cares gently and tenderly for his sheep, our Lord’s kingship is one of service and love. He guides His sheep, that is all of us into the right paths and provide us all that we need. We need not fear the powers of evil and death if we stick closely to our Lord, as He is the only One who can bring harm to our soul. Though the powers of this world may be able to harm our body, they cannot do anything to harm our soul.

That is because, the faithful, though persecuted and oppressed by the world, they will be greatly rewarded at the Last Judgment, and their souls will be saved. We have no need to fear, brothers and sisters, if we follow the Lord. Persevere and remain faithful. Remember that in another part of the Gospel, Jesus said that those who seek to preserve themselves in this world will lose it, but those who do not mind to lose themselves will gain eternal life?

Through Christ, we have been made justified and righteous, as He is the new Adam by virtue of His incarnation as Man, as the prime example of the faithful and the just. The first Adam, our ancestor, had been unfaithful, and he followed his own personal greed and desire, and being thus taken in by Satan’s lies, and disobeying God, he had sinned, and sin entered into the hearts of men.

Jesus therefore is the role model for all of us, as the new Adam, who led a life opposite of the first Adam. While the first Adam was unfaithful and sinful, Christ the new Adam was completely faithful and devoted to God, free of any taints of sin in life. And meanwhile the first Adam thought first about himself and succumbed to his desires, Christ the new Adam thought first not of Himself, but of the One who had sent Him into the world, and obeyed the will of His Father perfectly and fully, that He brought about our salvation from sin and death.

And thus, in the second reading today, taken from letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, it was mentioned that for the obedience and the actions Christ had taken, as our King, and yet as a humble and servant King, God was pleased to subjugate all things and all peoples under His authority, that is precisely what He will do in the end of time, the Last Judgment, as the Judge to judge all the living and the dead.

At the end of time, our Lord Jesus will come to judge us all, and nothing that we have done or we have not done will not be uncovered. He knows everything about us, and there is nothing that we can hide from Him. Not even the deepest of our hearts’ secrets will remain hidden before God. The Book of Life and the other books mentioned in the Book of revelation and the Gospels contain all of our actions, our deeds and our words, every single things that we have committed.

Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that our Lord as our King, has two aspects, just as all the other kings also have. First, our King shows us mercy and love, His desire for all of us to be reunited with Him. However, as King, He also has to mete out justice and judgment, which must be impartial. Thus, while He is merciful and loving towards us, but He hates our sins, the taints and blemishes which separate us from the perfection of His love.

In the Gospel we heard how Jesus detailed on what will happen at the Last Judgment. All will come before the Lord their King, and He will judge them equally based on their actions. There were two groups of people at that judgment, and the judgment results are clear cut. It is either that they have done what is right in the eyes of God, or if they have done what is wicked, or failed to do what is right in the sight of God.

This should then bring our attention to the nature of sin. The most common sin known to us, is the sin of action, that is sins committed by doing things abhorrent and wicked before God and men, such as stealing, murder, jealousy, coveting others’ belongings, disobedience against God, fornication of the flesh and many others. However, many of us often do not realise or forget that there is another type of sin that is equally bad, and this is the sin of omission.

What is the sin of omission? As the name said, it is sin committed when we are perfectly in place and capable of doing something good, and yet we consciously choose not to do so, and instead, we often care for ourselves first, succumbing to our ego, pride and greed. Just as the first Adam, we have the tendency to be selfish, to think of ourselves first, and to satisfy our own needs first. And while he got the knowledge he wanted, he sinned.

What did Jesus say to those whom He judged to be on His left? He cursed them and condemned them because they have had many opportunities to do good things and to help the many people around them who are in need, and yet they ignored them and went on doing their own businesses, caring only about themselves. Their ignorance and refusal to lift up and raise their hands to help, had been accounted for, and these weighed in against them at the final judgment.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, on this celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King, what we can we do to improve ourselves and to ensure our salvation? It is by following the example of our Lord Himself, who is King, Lord and Master of all the Universe, and yet, He was humble, obedient and loving in all of His actions. He served those entrusted to Him, and also loved the poor, the meek and lowly, the ostracised and the castaways of the society. He showed His mercy and love to sinners, the prostitutes and tax collectors.

In following the actions and ways of Jesus our Lord and King, we will be able to do what is right, and give to our brethren in need, the love and support which we should give to them, especially whenever we are in position to give our help and our love. Do not forget also, that we must therefore avoid the sin of omission, which means that we should not be complacent or lazy whenever we are able to commit good deeds for the sake of our brethren.

Today, we also celebrate the feast day of both Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr, and also St. Columban, an abbot. The actions of these saints were in accordance to the actions of Christ, and they showed care and love for their friends and neighbours around them. Pope St. Clement I was the Pope in the early Church, one of the first direct successors of St. Peter the Apostle as the Bishop of Rome. Meanwhile, St. Columban was an abbot who lived during the early Dark Ages.

Pope St. Clement I was one of the earliest Popes, and records suggested that he was directly chosen by St. Peter to be one of his successors together with Pope St. Clement’s immediate predecessors. He was pious and devoted to God, and he tirelessly worked for the sake of the faithful. He was a man of prayer and love, often caring for those less fortunate under his care. He provided for them spiritually as well as in material, as far as he could.

It was told that he was exiled under the orders of the Roman Emperor Trajan, who sent him to the far corners of the Empire at Chersonessos, to work in a mine there. He carried out his work dutifully without fear, and when there was a draught in the mine, he prayed to God, and immediately a clear spring appeared, to the delight of his fellow exiles and workers.

It was clear from these examples, that Pope St. Clement I is another role model we can follow, as he truly practiced his faith, and when he was able to, he helped those around him by using the grace God given him, the grace of prayer and faith, which he used to bring goodness to the others poor, oppressed and exiled from their houses.

Meanwhile, St. Columban was an Irish missionary, who travel widely across Europe and Christendom at the time, spreading the faith in various locations, serving and helping others around the places during his journeys. St. Columban established many monasteries around Europe and Christendom, becoming eventually an abbot himself.

The works and dedications of St. Columban might have been different from that of Pope St. Clement I, but nevertheless, what he had done, was also done to help the least of the society, those who have been lost to the darkness, and by giving places to the faithful who sought to devote themselves more to God in prayer, he had done much great goodness for the Lord and His people.

Hence, as we end our liturgical year with this celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King, and with the understanding that upon baptism, we too have shared in the Kingship of Christ, let us all be ever more resolute in truly living our faith, so that in all that we do, and in all that we say and in our actions, we may be loving towards our brethren, especially those who are in need of our help.

Let us be like our Lord and King, who did not boast and be proud of His authority and kingship, but rather remain humble and serve those who had been entrusted to Him. Through our baptism, we share in the kingship of Christ, and we have to realise that all of us have the responsibility to take care of one another, to keep each other in the path of the Lord. May our Lord and King watch over us always, and help us, so that we may remain ever faithful, and in the end, when He comes again, He may find us righteous and just, and thus are worthy of His eternal kingdom. God be with us all. Amen.

 

First Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/19/sunday-23-november-2014-34th-sunday-of-ordinary-time-solemnity-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-king-of-the-universe-memorial-of-pope-st-clement-i-pope-and-martyr-and-st-columban-abbot-first-readi/

 

Psalm :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/19/sunday-23-november-2014-34th-sunday-of-ordinary-time-solemnity-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-king-of-the-universe-memorial-of-pope-st-clement-i-pope-and-martyr-and-st-columban-abbot-psalm/

 

Second Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/19/sunday-23-november-2014-34th-sunday-of-ordinary-time-solemnity-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-king-of-the-universe-memorial-of-pope-st-clement-i-pope-and-martyr-and-st-columban-abbot-second-read/

 

Gospel Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/19/sunday-23-november-2014-34th-sunday-of-ordinary-time-solemnity-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-king-of-the-universe-memorial-of-pope-st-clement-i-pope-and-martyr-and-st-columban-abbot-gospel-read/

Saturday, 30 August 2014 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Matthew 25 : 14-30

Imagine someone who, before going abroad, summoned his servants to entrust his property to them. He gave five talents of silver to one servant, two talents to another servant, and one talent to a third, to each according to his ability; and he went away.

He who received five talents went at once to do business with the money, and gained another five. The one who received two talents did the same, and gained another two. But the one who received one talent dug a hole, and hid his master’s money.

After a long time, the master of those servants returned and asked for a reckoning. The one who had received five talents came with another five talents, saying, “Lord, you entrusted me with five talents, but see, I have gained five more.” The master answered, “Very well, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in a few things, I will entrust you with much more. Come and share the joy of your master.”

Then the one who had received two talents came and said, “Lord, you entrusted me with two talents; with them I have gained two more.” The master said, “Well, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in little things, I will entrust you with much more. Come and share the joy of your master.”

Finally, the one who had received one talent came and said, “Master, I know that you are a hard man. You reap what you have not sown, and gather what you have not scattered. I was afraid, so I hid your money in the ground. Here, take what is yours!”

But his master replied, “Wicked and worthless servant, you know that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered; so you should have deposited my money in the bank, and on my return you would have given it back to me with interest.”

“Therefore, take the talent from him, and give it to the one who has ten. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who are unproductive, even what they have will be taken from them. As for that useless servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Monday, 10 March 2014 : 1st Week of Lent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Today’s readings are a premonition of what is to come, and which will come to all of us without exception. Yes, all of us will be judged, and there is only one judge who will decide our fate, which will last for eternity. That judge is our Lord and God Himself, Jesus Christ, who proclaimed the very role that He will take up in the future. He will judge all mankind and separate the good from the bad, the faithful and the rebellious ones.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is this judgment that determines our fate for all eternity, and once the decision is settled, and the hammer is down, our fate is sealed. It is either that we walk the path of righteousness and doing God’s will which will earn us a place among the sheep, on the right hand side of our Judge and therefore receive the gift of everlasting blessing and grace, to live forever in joy and perfect love.

Or we can choose to side with the devil, and walk the path of wickedness, either by committing acts that are wicked and deplorable in the eyes of the Lord, or by ignoring His laws and commandments, and by remaining idle when we are in full capacity and capability to do something in accordance with the will of God.

Yes, if we do these, then we will be on the left hand side, the goats, that is those who are rejected by the Lord, and those whom are judged unworthy by God to share the eternal blessing and grace He had allocated to those who remain faithful to Him. This leads to eternal damnation and suffering, that is total separation from the love of God, and in that state of nothingness and without hope, we suffer grievously.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, there are two kinds of sins that we have to really pay attention to. The first is what is often called the sin of action, the kind of sin that we are most familiar with. Essentially these are the sins which in our first reading from the Book of Leviticus tried to address, as also stated in the Ten Commandments that we all certainly know very well by now.

Basically these are sins by our direct and conscious actions, with examples such as murder, stealing, lying, jealousy, and many others, which brought negative consequences to either ourselves, and more often than not, our brothers and sisters, our neighbours and our fellow man, or to God Himself. These are the sins most obvious to us, because indeed, our world today are full of it. Mankind nowadays are often embroiled in violence and hatred towards one another.

This we have to avoid, yes, and we have to make the effort to avoid at all cost from committing these sins, by fortifying ourselves that we may not be easily tempted to commit these acts for whatever reasons, some of which bring certain advantages to us. But we must not forget that there is another kind of sin that we should not forget.

That kind of sin is the sin of omission, that is failure to do what is expected from us, the failure to do good deeds according to the Lord and His will. This is what Jesus mentioned as the Judge telling off those on His left, that they had ignored and cared not for the plight of those less fortunate in their life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to avoid committing these two kinds of sins. How best to do so? By strengthening our faith and defense against evil through a good and healthy prayer life that we may always be strong in our faith and not easily fall to the temptation to commit the sins of action. And whenever we have the opportunity to do good deeds, do not squander them. Be aware of the plight of others in need for our love. Give them our attention and be not afraid in doing so, even if others disapprove of our actions.

May we all not be found among those whom the Lord will reject on the Day of Judgment, and that all of us may strive to be always righteous and worthy of our Lord. May the Lord be with us always and bless us, that we may go through this life filled with goodness and be proactive in our faith. Amen.

Sunday, 29 September 2013 : 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the well-known parable on the story of Lazarus the poor beggar and his counterpart, the rich man. We listened to the perils of Lazarus in this life, and after the deaths of both him and the rich man, we again listened to the suffering the rich man endured for eternity in hell.

The story shows the considerable contrast in the reality in our society, both at the time of Jesus and even today in our modern world. The rich lived in great wealth and great comfort, and the poor lived in suffering and a life of deficiency. The rich tends to get richer while the poor tends to get poorer. That is the reality, brethren, even today.

However, it is important to note that, Jesus did not condemn the rich and neither did He condemn their wealth, their money, and their possessions. What He condemned is inaction, the failure of one, whether he is rich or poor, strong or weak, to act, with love, when someone or others around them face difficulties or challenges, which we can help overcome through our actions.

The Lord our God desired that through our actions, we can look at our brethren in suffering, and offer to them a helping hand, and also, our love. That is what He truly wants from us, that we can share the love that He had given us, with one another. This is what the rich man had failed to do in his life. He failed to notice the plight of Lazarus the beggar, the poor man, leaving him to die of hunger, while he feasted every day and every night on endless flow of food and drinks.

Lazarus received his compensation in heaven, for in his suffering, he had built much wealth in heaven, by persevering through life, and presumably, doing what is good in the eyes of the Lord. He was given rest and happiness, in the company of the saints and the angels. On the other hand, the rich man, who feasted without end, and cared nothing on others, received his due, that is eternal suffering in hell.

Therefore, brethren, we are really urged to do something for others, especially those whose suffering and plight can be lessened through the touch of our love, be it in our words or our actions. Let us not be like the rich man, who ignored the plight of the weak, the poor, and the ostracised, and instead let us love them and open our hearts for them.

Today’s readings in fact highlight another important facet of our faith, brothers and sisters in Christ. In line with the first reading, and the psalm, while we have been cast out of the heavenly glory of God, all because of our sins and faults, He came to give us a new hope, in His saving power, through Jesus His Son, suffering and crucified.

Ever since our ancestors sinned against God, disobeying Him and instead, obeying the words of Satan the deceiver, we have been cast out from the presence of God, because we are unworthy, and because we have hardened our heart against God and His love. His enduring love for us however, continues to burn, with the hope that we may repent our ways and return to Him.

An infinite and uncrossable chasm existed between us and the Lord, and no one could cross this chasm, and we thought that we were doomed to hell prepared for the devil and his fellow rebels, the fallen angels. But God did not intend the hell for us, nor for any of His beloved creations. Yet, many of us throughout the ages failed to escape the snares of hell, falling into temptations of the world and its pleasures, as the rich man had done.

The great suffering in hell is in fact not the flames and heat that torture for all time, as the rich man had endured. That heat is a consequence and a part of the unending suffering that one has to go through, if one does not repent for his or her sins. The main part of the suffering is actually the complete sundering and separation of one from God, of one from the divine love that God has for all of us. That love, which sustains all of us in this world, is no longer there for those who have rejected Him and consequently fall into hell.

Without God’s love and the eternal period of one has to suffer in hell, knowing fully that there is no hope at all to redo what they had done wrongly and what they had failed to do, when they still walked this world. This hopelessness and thus despair, combined with the total separation from God and His graces, are the things that make hell so painful, so unendurable, and so despicable. Brethren, our every breath, and every good things we have, come from the Lord and His love. Can you imagine a state where we are entirely and totally devoid of any form of God’s love, for eternity, and that is hell?

That is why God constantly tried to help us, by sending His messengers through the prophets, to remind mankind of the need for repentance and purification, from the evils and the impurities of the devil inside our hearts. And yet, many of us and our ancestors turned a deaf ear to these reminders, and even slaughtered the prophets of God, spilling innocent blood, and mankind still fell into damnation.

That is why, brethren, He sent Jesus His Son, to be the great deliverance of His beloved children, from the slavery of sin and death, and from their fate of eternal punishment in hell. Jesus is the bridge, the narrow bridge that bridged the infinite chasm existing between us and God, that through Him, we may cross that chasm towards the Lord, our most loving God.

The Lord Jesus Christ  made our crossing towards the Lord possible, but as I mentioned, as much as He is the only bridge, that is the only way to salvation in God, that bridge is also very, very narrow at the same time. As such, the way to the Lord is not an easy one. We tend to face difficulties and challenges along the way, that would make us to detour from our true path, and fall into damnation, if we are not careful. After all, that path is really narrow indeed.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, once again, it must be reiterated that, God loves everyone and cares for everyone, be it that they are poor or rich, weak or strong, beggar or prince, all have a place in the Lord’s plan of salvation. God does not condemn the rich nor their wealth nor their privileges. What He condemns is the lack of charity, by anyone, even among the weak and the poor, for others.

It is these shortcomings, the lack of charity, the lack of love, and the lack of care for one another, which dooms us to failure, as we walk across the cross of salvation, that is the bridge Christ had made upon His death, to bridge the gap between mankind and their Father in heaven. In fact, as Christ had told His disciples, that to those who had been given much, much will also be expected from them. Therefore, as those who have more in terms of possessions and monetary well-being had been given a greater share of grace by the Lord, much is also expected from them, to share their joy with those who lack them, that in sharing, all the children of God will rejoice together as one.

We certainly do not want to suffer as the rich man had suffered in hell, for eternity. The way to the Lord is there, brethren, through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, but it is narrow. Let us resolve then to proceed on our way towards God without delay, and ensure that we stay on that path, by our faith in the crucified Christ and the Risen Christ, and that faith which is made alive through our love, reflected in our words and actions.

Let us therefore offer a helping hand to anyone around us who are in need of help, giving them the love, care, and attention, following the example of Christ Himself, who had given His complete and perfect love to everyone, to all of us sinners, to even His enemies who cried for His death and those who persecuted Him and the people of God.

May the Lord nurture in all of us, within our hearts, the enduring love and compassion, that from now on we will give our love to our brethren around us, sharing with them our joy and love. And the Lord who sees our obedience and faith, will reward us, with nothing else than eternal life in the presence of God, filled with joy, in the same way as Lazarus the poor beggar, had been treated. God bless us all and remain with us, within our hearts forever. Amen.

Sunday, 14 July 2013 : 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan. This is a well-known story by Jesus to show that nobody is beyond help, and nobody is beyond salvation, for everyone is truly equal before God, and God loves them all the same.

Why Samaritan? In order to understand this, we need to look into the history of the people of Israel and the region of Jesus’ time, that is two thousand years ago. At that time, the region north of Judea, where most of the Jews lived in, and where Jerusalem is, is called Samaria, the former lands of the northern kingdom of Israel.

The northern kingdom was destroyed about more than seven hundred years prior to the birth of Jesus by the powerful Assyrian Empire, and the people of the northern kingdom were taken away from their homeland and scattered among the nations in exile. In their place, the pagan peoples of Assyria and its constituent nations came in and settled in that region, together with the local people of the land of Canaan.

The people of Samaria, as the region was to be known henceforth, were therefore a mix of people, but considered as evidently ‘non-Jewish’ by the Jewish people who would return from the exile in Babylon, those who settled in Jerusalem, and in the former Kingdom of Judah, in what was then to be known as Judea.

That marked the beginning of distrust between the Jewish people and the Samaritans, as they were called by the Jews at the time. They were considered as pagan and as a people without hope for salvation, because the Jews at the time believe that they, as the chosen people, the chosen race, are the only ones worthy of God, and no others are worthy of the Lord.

Yet, without going further into the long story of the history of the two peoples, we can see in today’s Gospel reading in particular, the disparity between the reaction of the Jews, and that of the Samaritan, when confronted with an injured person, a person in suffering. The Levite and the priest portrayed by Jesus were high ranked members of the Jewish society and were usually held in high regards, and yet they ignored the suffering of the robbed person and went on their way. But the Samaritan, cursed and held in contempt by the Jews, stopped and gave it his all to provide the best aid he could give to the suffering person.

The purpose of the readings today, brothers and sisters, is however not to put Jews against non-Jews, and not to discriminate against either the Jews or the Samaritans. The real purpose is to show that while it is not easy to become the disciples of the Lord, the Lord had not made it so difficult for us to follow His precepts and walk in His ways, just as the first reading from the Book of Deuteronomy had mentioned.

The Lord had given His commandments to the people, as a set of laws to govern how the people of Israel should live their lives, and He had given them to Moses, so that he could make sure that the people of God would continue to keep God’s laws in their hearts, as long as they live, and pass them down the generations, so that their children, grandchildren, and so on would continue to live according to the Lord’s way through His commandments.

But over time, the true meaning of God’s commandments had been lost, and they had been replaced with laws made by men. The laws had become empty rituals and observations that had lost their heart, the centre of all things, and of all the law. What is this thing? This thing is none other than love, for God’s commandments are truly the commandments of love!

To love our God, with all our hearts, with all our minds, with all our strengths, and with all our being, just as we do the same to our neighbours, loving them, our brothers and sisters, forgiving those who had wronged us, and bring love to one another, sharing them so that love will not perish inside us, but grow, nurtured by our love with one another, and together with our love for God, who loves us all, without exceptions.

It is not difficult to love, and it is indeed possible to love without making much effort, but love requires a true sincerity of the heart to be accomplished, because love requires our hearts to be free of the entanglements of evil and its rotten fruits, like hatred, jealousy, sloth, greed, and so many other corruptions that evil had brought into our hearts.

We like to make excuses, brothers and sisters in Christ, excuses so that we will not need to love one another, and even not to love God! Because we like to linger in our own sense of security and pleasure in this comfortable world, so that we will not want to step beyond that sphere of security, to go out of our way, whenever we see someone hurting, someone in pain and suffering, and someone without love.

We like to love ourselves more, to be selfish, and to think of ourselves before that of others. No, brothers and sisters in Christ, we cannot be like that. To be Christian means to be with one another in Christ, to become brethren in our Lord and God. To be Christian means to be like the Good Samaritan, not because he is a Samaritan, but because he showed mercy, love, and compassion to those in need, to those who are suffering, and to give their love to others, that the love in all will grow and blossom.

It is important for all of us to show love in all the things that we do, in all our actions, in all our words and deeds, so that we truly belong to God who is Love, and not to the devil. It is easy for us to just walk away and ignore those in need, just as what was done by the priest and the Levite, abandoning the suffering to their pain, and go on about their own business.

Does it not ring a bell to our own actions, how we often walk away from those in suffering, and pretending not to see what had happened, or pretending to be deaf to the cries of those who are suffering, and who greatly need our help? Even little actions of love from us, can mean a great deal of difference to them.

Let me relate to you, a real-life story, in which a toddler was ran over by a car on the street, because the toddler’s parents were busy shopping in the nearby market, and they did not notice that their child had been separated from them. The toddler did not die instantly from the crash, and indeed had hope of survival from the injuries sustained from the accident, but because nobody was aroused to give their help, the child bled to death on the scene.

Did that accident happen on an empty road? on an abandoned street? No, the accident happened in a very busy road, where lots of people were passing around, and while some glanced at the injured toddler on the street, nobody were aroused to give a hand to help. They just walked on, pretending that nothing had ever happened. The worst are those who would say, either openly or secretly in these ways, “Pity”, “How very unfortunate”, “Where are the parents” “So tragic”, when they could just nudge themselves into taking action, which might have meant a big difference between life and death.

It is not difficult, brothers and sisters, to follow the commandments of the Lord, to be His disciples, because all that we need to do, is to obey Him and His will, and do His bidding, that is to do the works of love, and helping one another, especially those in need, is already good enough. We do not have to make excuses that, “Sorry I cannot help, too busy”, or if we would like to give in terms of financial donation, “Sorry, I am not rich enough, or I am still poor, so why should I give to the poor? Wait until I become rich then I will donate.”

Because acts of love can be as simple as showing love to those who are unloved, those who are ostracised, and those who have been growing up without love. Love is increasingly a more difficult commodity to find in our world today, and it is up to us, to rekindle the love in the hearts of our brothers and sisters. For no matter how great we are, without love, and therefore, without God, as the centre of our life, we are nothing.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today, let us pledge ourselves to the Lord, that we will always keep His commandments faithfully, by first believing in Him and loving Him with all our hearts, with all our minds, with all our strengths, and with all our being, and then to love one another, as brothers and sisters, children of the same God, reflecting the love that we have received from the Lord, in our own actions, in our own words, and in all the things that we profess in our lives.

Remember always Jesus Christ, our Lord, whose perfect selflessness and love for all of us, God’s children, made Him to obey fully the will of God His Father, to die on the cross for us, the ultimate form of love, the love one has for one’s friend, that one would give life to another that that other one may live. Christ showed His love for us through none other than His death, a humiliating death on the cross, but which was converted to the cross of glory and hope, when He rose again, and gave us all, the hope of salvation and eternal life, if we believe in Him. May God remain with us always, and we too, remain in His love. Amen.

Thursday, 28 February 2013 : 2nd Week of Lent (Scripture Reflection)

We heard today, the well-known story of Lazarus the poor and the rich man. One who suffered in this life and received his reward in the afterlife, while the rich man who enjoyed in this world, suffers  grievously in hell. Do not be confused though. God does not hate the rich, and neither that He hates those who have more. It does not mean that if you are poor then you are guaranteed entry into the kingdom of heaven.

No, indeed, what matters is the state of the soul, and how are we aligned with God in our hearts. Wealth and property can be a hindrance in our path to God, but they can also be an asset that helps us in our path. What matters is how we use them, and to whom we depend on. We have a choice, either to place our trust in the eternal and undying Lord our God, and in His love, or to place our trust in mortal man and temporal wealth.

Wealth though useful, as indeed, we cannot live in this world today without money at all. Money makes the world spinning, and it allows many things to be done. But, as we have seen in many people today, many are ensnared and trapped in the futile thirst for wealth, possessions, affluence, and wanting for more of each of them, that they plough forward thinking only on the best way to get these, and immerse themselves so fully in their career and work, so that they can earn all these. Such is the kind of damage to our soul and our being, that materialism and commercialism in our world has brought us.

Just as in the first reading, in what the Lord said to the prophet Jeremiah, that these men who placed their trust in mortal and temporary things will be cursed and rejected just like the rich man. You can party all you want all day, and have a very enjoyable life in this world, but in too many cases, because of such pleasure, enjoyment, and fulfillment, we became blind to those around us, we became blind to the condition of the world outside our comfort zone, and we ignore the cry of the poor and the less fortunate for help.

We do not need to give all our wealth and possessions to the poor. We do not need to sell our homes and live like a poor ourselves, denying ourselves any property. For what is important is that, to listen. Just as Abraham said to the rich man in hell, that there is a need to listen, to listen to the teachings of God through the Law and the prophets, and listen to the word of God, which today we read and listened to in the readings. But to listen is also to sharpen our minds and our senses, to open our eyes and ears to see and hear the plight of the less fortunate around us.

That beyond all those ceaseless partying, happy life, and all, there is a way to achieve true happiness. Because, happiness that is built on these materials, possessions, and all mortal things will eventually be swept away, and although it is real happiness, but it is not true happiness. What is true happiness is to follow what God has constantly taught us through Christ, to follow His commandments of love.

To love our neighbour as we love ourselves, and to love God Himself with all our strength, and with all our being. In doing so, we will gain true satisfaction, and with the knowledge that God loves what we are doing, if we do so, we can be rest assured that we will not suffer the same way the rich man did. For the rich man had many opportunities in life to help Lazarus in life, who always present at his gate, and therefore must be well known to the rich man. Yet, instead of giving him help, the rich man lifted no finger to help and abandoned him to his death.

Indeed, again we heard about the sin of omission, that is, failing to do what we are supposed to do, and failing to do what is good, when we are able to. To sin is not by just doing what is bad and evil in the eyes of God, but we also have committed sin, if we are fully capable of doing good, and have the power and capacity to lessen the sufferings of others by sharing what good we have, but have chosen to ignore, and do not use what we have, the opportunity that we have. Such is the sin of omission, that the rich man had done, in addition to whatever bad things he might have done in his life, that made him deserve hell.

For in hell, the sufferings that the rich man suffered is in fact not physical fires and torment, as what many would have thought and portrayed as the burning hells. Instead, what is hell? Hell is the ultimate separation between God and man, where man has no hope of eternal life, but eternal death and separation from God who is everything. For God encompass everything and loves all of His creation, that it is incomprehensible to be left out of His love and presence.

Hell is when we have totally rejected God, and have turned our back entirely from Him, and shunned His divine and infinite love. The suffering of the rich man is the suffering of the soul, the internal fire, a fire that is the absence of the love and presence of God, that burns the person so greatly that they suffer. Imagine a world where you cannot reach out to God, and where you have no hope of escaping, and imagine the place where it is too late for you to ask the Lord for forgiveness, because we ourselves have rejected Him. That is the true hell.

We have the privilege today to listen to the Word of God through the Scripture, just as the rich man had the opportunity to listen to the Moses through the Law, and the prophets. Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is now up to us to choose, whether we want to listen to the Word of God, and begin to change our ways and our life, that we may live in charity and love, or to reject the Word and continue to revel in our own pleasurable life, that is not true happiness.

Let us pray for one another that all of us will grow ever more in faith, hope, and love. That all of us can do in our own ways, charitable acts and acts of love, to help those less fortunate around us, and not limited to just that, but also to comfort the sorrowful and to accompany the lonely, and many others things that we indeed can do, and we have the potential to do. Let us pray for our Church, that it can continue to do its numerous act of charity, which all of us can also participate in, for the good of our brethren throughout the world, suffering from hunger, injustice, prejudice, and even persecution. May God bless us all, always. Amen.

Monday, 18 February 2013 : 1st Week of Lent (Scripture Reflection)

God told us today, to be active in our faith, to live our faith, and to act out our faith. For indeed, faith without any act of love and justice is simply dead. Faith alone cannot guarantee us salvation. The Lord indeed said that if you have faith in Me, you will be saved, but He did not mean that we just have faith, staring at Him and just concern ourselves with Him all the time, ignoring all the sufferings that are around us, ignoring the plea for help made by our less fortunate brothers and sisters,

No, the Lord wants us to believe in Him and have faith in Him, but mainly through concrete action. How else to prove our faith to the Lord who is love and compassion, by doing what He is doing, that is to love and to be just to our neighbours, to our fellow men, and more so to those who are considered least and lowest in our respective societies. To God, we are all equal, but sadly, in our human society, more often than not, social hierarchy threw down many people who are poor, sick, and rejected into the bottom of the society, shunned and reviled by the people.

What God taught us, through Christ, is that the commandments that He has given through Moses to the people of Israel, had been perfected into the commandments of love. For all the commandments and rules He gave to Moses in the first reading today, it is clear that all of them are based on love. Love of our fellow men, and of course love for God. To love is to reach out to them with love, to reflect love in all things we do, and to make love the centre of our being, that through our actions, the love of God is made manifest in our world. For God’s love reaches all, but very often, this love becomes concrete and real through us, especially when we take on works of charity, approach those who are lonely and rejected, comfort those who sorrow and those who face tribulations and trials in their lives.

For God loves everyone so much, and equally, even to the least among us. Therefore, if we turn a blind eye to them, or even to join in persecuting them, the Lord will not be pleased. For to God, even those who are least, will also be worthy of His Kingdom, and sometimes it is true indeed, that those who have nothing, like those who are poorest and weakest, who loves God the most.

The failure to help and do good for our less fortunate brethren is what is called the sin of omission, just as we sin by doing something bad and evil, something displeasing before the Lord, so is the failure to do what is good and what will be able to alleviate the suffering of others, if we are fully capable to do it, but choose not to do so. Such is the sin of omission, which we are always repeatedly reminded in the Penitential Act we do in the Mass, “…what I have done, and what I have failed to do…” Let us therefore, not only make these declarations emptily, and let us from this moment onward, mean what we say.

Begin with those immediately around you, and those that you met along the way. If someone is asking you for help, even a simple one, do not outrightly reject them or shoo them away. If it is within your ability to help, why not lift a hand to give aid to those in need? But remember, not to do so in order to be praised ourselves like hypocrites, who show their acts of charity to make their fame increase, by trumpeting what they do in the streets. Do acts of charity with true sincerity and humility and out of love for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Let us pray today, that God will give us a heart of love and compassion, to be moved by the plight of those suffering around us, and those who lack love in their heart, that we may bring love to them as well. May God bless us all, always. Amen.