(Easter Sunday) Sunday, 27 March 2016 : Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, Holy Week, Easter Octave (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Colossians 3 : 1-4

So then, if you are risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on earthly things.

For you have died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, reveals Himself, you also will be revealed with Him in Glory.

 

Alternative reading


1 Corinthians 5 : 6b-8

Do you not know that a little yeast makes the whole mass of dough rise? Throw out, then, the old yeast and be new dough. If Christ became our Passover, you should be unleavened bread.

Let us celebrate, therefore, the Passover, no longer with old yeast, which is sin and perversity; let us have unleavened bread, that is purity and sincerity.

Saturday, 31 May 2014 : Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Zephaniah 3 : 14-18

Cry out with joy, o daughter of Zion; rejoice, o people of Israel! Sing joyfully with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem!

YHVH has lifted your sentence and has driven your enemies away. YHVH, the King of Israel is with you; do not fear any misfortune. On that day they will say to Jerusalem : Do not be afraid nor let your hands tremble, for YHVH your God is within you, YHVH, saving Warrior. He will jump for joy on seeing you, for He has revived His love.

For you He will cry out with joy, as you do in the days of the Feast. I will drive away the evil I warned you about, and you will no longer be shamed.

 

Alternative reading

 

Romans 12 : 9-16b

Let love be sincere. Hate what is evil and hold to whatever is good. Love one another and be considerate. Outdo one another in mutual respect. Be zealous in fulfilling your duties. Be fervent in the Spirit and serve God.

Have hope and be cheerful. Be patient in trials and pray constantly. Share with other Christians in need. With those passing by, be ready to receive them. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not wish evil on anyone. Rejoice with those who are joyful, and weep with those who weep. Live in peace with one another. Do not dream of extraordinary things.

Sunday, 27 October 2013 : 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brethren, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ. What right do we have to be proud and judgmental before God and before others? What right do we have to condemn others because we think that we are better than them? And what right do we have to boast of ourselves and the good things that we do, before the Lord our God? None, we have none of these rights, because we truly are all sinners without exception, all equal before the Lord.

The Lord loves all those who are humble, and those who are in deep realisation of their own sins. They are truly beloved by God, because they are those who are more likely to have God in their hearts, and also those who are more likely to put the Lord at the centre of their hearts and at the centre of their very being. It does not mean that the proud and the mighty do not have the Lord in their hearts, but they are predisposed to put less importance to the Lord compared to those who are meek and humble.

This is because, due to our nature, our pride very often stands in the way of salvation in God, as well as blocking the love of God from reaching us. When pride masters our hearts, it grows to arrogance, and a feeling of superiority that tends to shut out anything that points out our inadequacies and mistakes, because we tend to put ever more and more trust in our own strengths and abilities.

We must not therefore, be like the Pharisee, who basked in his own glory, and praising his own goodness. He even went on to look down upon those whom he considered to be not as good as him, particularly the tax collector. He thought of himself as being pious and saved, but in fact he is truly empty within him, and without God as the centre of his life.

In doing what he had done, the Pharisee had highlighted the pride he has in him, and how he gave in to that pride, and finally, in his prayers, he gave glory to himself and did not give glory to God. The Lord who sees all and knows all will give what the Pharisee and other people like him, what they deserved. They deserved neither praise nor honour, because in their pride, they gave no glory to God, and in a prayer full of hubris, they revealed the darkness of their souls.

Brethren, although Jesus used the example of the Pharisees to depict the bad seed in the society, in many different occasions and conditions, that is mainly because at that time, the Pharisees were well known for their very strict adherence to the laws of Moses, as well as the other, numerous Jewish laws and customs.

This is in fact good, as indeed, we all need to obey and follow God’s rules and laws. However, in the way that this was done by the Pharisees, they had not done what the Lord truly wanted them to do, and in fact, the Pharisees obeyed mostly the laws of men, that is the numerous rules, regulations, and rituals created by the people over many generations.

They have lost the understanding of the true meaning of the law of God, as well as how it should be implemented. They had become obsessed at the observation of the laws derived from the true law, that they did those rules without true understanding of why they did so. Even worse, as the leaders of the people and role model of the people, they have misguided the people of God, and also exploited them, by imposing on them the crushing weight of such rules and regulations.

What the Lord truly wants from us, His children, is the love and dedication that we can give Him, genuinely and sincerely, from the depth of our hearts. This kind of love is not easy for us to achieve, as it means the total giving of ourselves, the opening of our hearts to the Lord and His love. In the same way, the Lord also wants us to love one another just as we have loved ourselves, and just as we have loved Him. These are the essence of the true desire of the Lord for us, through which He guided us via His laws and commandments.

This is why, the Lord loves the prayer of the tax collector mentioned in Jesus’ teaching, where He mentioned that the prayer of the tax collector was heard and he had his sins forgiven for him. The tax collector did not only distance himself from the Holy Presence of God, feeling so unworthy because he realised the depth of his faults and iniquities, but he even lowered himself humbly before God’s presence, kneeling in great shame before God.

And yet, it is this tax collector who are more capable of understanding his own sins, being in greater realisation of the faults he had committed. As I would like to highlight again what the late, saintly Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen had said, that the greater the sin one has, the closer is one to the throne of mercy. The darker one’s sins are, the more shame they should experience before the Lord their God.

Yet, the problem lies in that, many of us today are desensitised to sin. We are no longer feeling that shame whenever we commit sinful deeds. We instead even find sin to be good things and things that we enjoy. Hence we begin our path to downfall, by not realising the gravity of our sinfulness, and putting our pride ahead of us. In essence, we are becoming more and more like the Pharisee instead of the remorseful tax collector.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, lastly, the Lord also taught us the importance of prayer through the same parable, that we ought to pray, but not just any prayer. A prayer that is truly genuine and from the heart, made in complete submission to the will of God, and also complete willingness to listen to the word of God being spoken in our hearts.

Prayer is not just about us talking all the time, and neither it is a litany of demands and wishes for us to send to the Lord. Instead, a prayer is ought to be how it is intended, that is as a two-way communication channel between us and the Lord. That is what prayer truly is, brothers and sisters! Talk less and listen more! The Lord who knows all certainly knows what we truly need. It is often that what we desire is not what we need. In our greed it is likely for us to desire even things that we do not truly need.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, today all of us are called to a life of greater holiness, deeper spirituality, and greater commitment to the Lord. We need a deeper faith, a healthier prayer life, and ultimately, greater dedication and love for our fellow mankind, and especially, for the Lord Himself. May we grow ever stronger in our faith, our hope and love in God. God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the Lord who told His disciples on their mission and how they should perform it. We also listened to how the Lord was merciful to His people, even after they have transgressed against Him and disobeyed His commandments, causing great disappointments to Him who has loved us so much.

He wanted His disciples to be the true messengers of the Gospel, to be the bearers of the Lord’s message to the world, by their ministry among them, to the people who have yet to receive the Good News of the Lord. Therefore, as Christ had asked of His disciples as their mission before He departed from this world, the same too is expected of us today, we, who are the present day disciples and followers of Christ.

Into His disciples, Christ had given the same authority He possessed, the power that He has over evils and diseases, the teaching authority and the revelation of the Word of God and the Law. That is the same power and authority that had been passed down to our Church leaders, the bishops and the priests, to heal those who are hurt, and to help all of us on our way towards the Lord in salvation.

Armed with these gifts and endowment, the Lord sent them forth into the world, to the people of God, especially those who still lived in the depths of their sins. They were sent in pairs and went from place to place, visiting each of them and telling them on the Good News of salvation. They were to live humbly and act humbly, as the servants of God, that they would remain pure in their intentions, and would not veer away from their mission.

Yes, indeed, that is because mankind is inherently weak, especially against the temptations of the world. In our vulnerability lies a great risk, that we will misuse what we have been given, and use them for wickedness instead of using them for things that we are supposed to do, as the servants and children of God. That was what many of us today had done, and even among our priests and bishops, the shepherds appointed over us.

We either neglect the mission God had entrusted us with, and instead following the ways of the world, we live in wickedness and darkness, and we often drag even others with us into darkness. And the leaders of the faithful had also sometimes went wayward and caused much harm and divisions within the Church in various ways. This neglect and abandonment of the works that we ought to do, cause disruption and come against the plan that God has for each of us.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are urged to get rid of the worldly distractions in our lives and in our mission as the bringer of the Good News to mankind. We are urged to forgo things that may steer us away from our true purpose in life, that is to love one another and to love the Lord our God. It is very easy for us to lose our purpose, if we put out focus in the wrong things, such as money, possessions, and in worldly desires.

As I have often mentioned, that money, wealth, and material goods are not in themselves bad or evil. It is a fuel for evil or for good depending on how we utilise them, the way that we use them. We can use them for love and charity, as well as for selfishness and evil. It is in our hands that they can become tool for good or for bad. However, indeed, mankind often use them disproportionately for negative purposes, because the temptation of the devil is indeed very great.

Therefore, brethren, it is important for us to avoid falling into the same trap of the devil, that we do not become ensnared with the false promises of pleasure and money, that we end up cursed and damned because we failed to look away from the temporary pleasures the devil has offered. What we need is prayer, a good and vibrant prayer life that we have a strong faith, that whatever the devil offers us, we will be able to resist.

It is also important for us to love, and to serve our community, especially to our brethren in need, that we reinforce in ourselves the love God has given us. And not only that, in doing so, we also obey the commands of Jesus our Lord, who had sent His disciples to serve all the children of God, giving to them their love, care, and attention.

Let us all be faithful, loving, and committed to the Lord, that we can truly carry out His will and the mission He had entrusted us all with, to love sincerely, and to resist all the approaches of Satan, using whatever graces we have given with, especially in material possessions, wisely and carefully, for the good and benefits of one another. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 7 September 2013 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White

Psalm 53 : 3-4, 6 and 8

By Your Name, o God, save me; You, the Valiant, uphold my cause. Hear my prayer, o God; listen to the words of my mouth.

See, God is my helper; the Lord upholds my life. Freely will I offer sacrifice to You and praise Your Name, o Lord, for it is good.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius X, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Judges 9 : 6-15

Then all the lords of Shechem and the whole council assembled together by the oak at the pillar in Shechem, and proclaimed Abimelech king.

When Jotham was told about this, he went to the top of Mount Gerizim. There he cried out to them, “Listen to me, lords of Shechem, that God may listen to you!”

“The trees once set out to find and anoint a king. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’ The olive tree answered, ‘Am I going to renounce the oil by which – thanks to me – gods and people are honoured, to hold sway over the trees?’”

“The trees said to the fig tree : ‘Come and reign over us.’ The fig tree answered them, ‘Am I going to renounce my sweetness and my delicious fruit, to hold sway over the trees?’”

“The trees said to the vine : ‘Come and reign over us.’ The vine answered, ‘Am I going to renounce my juice which cheers gods and people to hold sway over the trees?”

“Then the trees said to the bramble bush : ‘Come, reign over us.’ The bramble bush answered the trees, ‘If you come in sincerity to anoint me as your king, then come near and take shelter in my shade; but if not, let fire break out of the bramble bush to devour even the cedars of Lebanon.’”

Saturday, 17 August 2013 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today Christ reminds us that we all need to be like children. Yes, like children, but not in childish ways, but in the purity of their thoughts, their minds and their hearts, and in the true faith that they have in the Lord. Yes, if we notice it well, children, who are pure and uncorrupted, often are able to give their all, their full and undivided attention to the Lord.

This pure faith of children is what we must have in each one of us, the faith untainted by the worry of the world, or the desires of the flesh for the pleasures of this world. That is why we should not reject these children and dismiss them as naive and without wisdom, for indeed, we can learn much even from these little children! And remember that the Lord Himself had said to His disciples, and therefore to us, that those who welcome these little children, also welcome Him. Those who reject them therefore, also reject the Lord.

Compare the faith of the children to that of the people of Israel as we see in the Book of Joshua from the First Reading. Why do you think that Joshua had to repeatedly ask the people to make a choice whether they are to serve the Lord or the pagan gods of Mesopotamia of their ancestors or the pagan gods of the Amorites their neighbours? That was exactly because they have often rebelled against the Lord, in their Exodus from Egypt, when they constantly complained against the Lord their God, tested Him and even worshiped pagan gods of the Midians and their own golden calf, that made God punish them severely.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, their disobedience had brought about their death and condemnation, because they had not kept the faith of their fathers and instead putting their trust in their own power, in their own desires and evils, and in the pagan gods that the Lord had forbid them from worshiping. Yes, their disobedience truly contrasts with the faith of the little children that God had praised and God had sought for, that He also expect from all of us.

Yes, brethren, like the people of Israel, we do have a choice too, either to follow the Lord our God with all our hearts, our minds, and with our full dedication, following faithfully all of His laws and commandments, or to follow ourselves, that is we follow the path of the devil, immersing ourselves in the worldly pleasures and desires, and doing everything that we want, but brought the disgust of the Lord our God?

It is entirely within our own power, within our own conscience to make a stand, to make a choice, and indeed, to make a difference in our own lives. It is not that it is wrong to seek happiness for ourselves, pleasures and joy while we are in this world. But what is important is that we do not become overindulged on them, and lose the true focus of our lives, that is the Lord our God and His love. It is often that we become blind to God and His love, because we are simply too busy with our own selves, with our own desires, to notice Him.

That is how children have the advantage over us, brothers and sisters in Christ, not because they are smarter, and not because they are stronger, or wiser than us, but because they keep the clarity of mind that we often no longer possess. We often worry too much in our daily lives, concerning ourselves with our daily needs, wants, and desires. We often worry about what we are to eat, what we are to have, where are we to go for our outings and many other things that fill up our mind, so much that we no longer have any space reserved for the Lord, not in our minds, not in our hearts.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, after today, do we then resolve to be more like those children in our faith? That is to worry less about this world and be swayed less by the temptations and pleasures of this world, and instead seek the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our focus, and with all our strength? Let us today renew our commitment for Him, and proclaim Him indeed, as the Lord our God, just as the people of Israel had done in Shechem with Joshua, pledging ourselves to only serve Him and worship Him and not any other god.

Yes, not any other god, and these gods are not just the pagan gods of old, but also our modern day ‘gods’, yes, the gods of money, wealth, fame, and many other things that often distract us from our path towards the Lord. Let us resolve to continue our journey of faith towards God and be not swayed by the evils of this world, remaining firm in our faith and dedication towards the Lord and towards His beloved people, our fellow brethren. God bless us all. Amen.