Thursday, 18 September 2014 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 7 : 36-50

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to share His meal, so He went to the Pharisee’s home, and as usual reclined at the table to eat. And it happened that a woman of this town who was known as a sinner, heard that He was in the Pharisee’s house.

She brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and stood behind Him, at His feet, weeping. She wet His feet with tears, she dried them with her hair, she kissed His feet and poured the perfume on them.

The Pharisee who had invited Jesus was watching, and thought, “If this Man were a Prophet, He would know what sort of person is touching Him; Is this woman not a sinner?”

Then Jesus spoke to the Pharisee and said, “Simon, I have something to ask you.” He answered, “Speak, Master.” And Jesus said, “Two people were in debt to the same creditor. One owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty. As they were unable to pay him back, he graciously cancelled the debts of both. Now, which of them will love him more?”

Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, who was forgiven more.” And Jesus said, “You are right.” And turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? You gave Me no water for My feet when I entered your house, but she has washed My feet with her tears and dried them with her hair.”

“You did not welcome Me with a kiss, but she has not stopped kissing My feet since she came in. You provided no oil for My head, but she has poured perfume on My feet. This is why, I tell you, her sins, her many sins, are forgiven, because of her great love. But the one who is forgiven little, has little love.”

Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others reclining with Him at the table began to wonder, “Now this Man claims to forgive sins!” But Jesus again spoke to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace!”

Sunday, 30 March 2014 : 4th Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or Rose (Laetare Sunday)

John 9 : 1-41

As Jesus walked along, He saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, “Master, was He born blind because of a sin of his, or of his parents?”

Jesus answered, “Neither was it for his own sin nor for his parents’ sin. He was born blind so that God’s power might be shown in him. While it is day we must do the work of the One who sent Me; for the night will come when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

As Jesus said this, He made paste with spittle and clay, and rubbed it on the eyes of the blind man. Then He said, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam.” (This word means sent.) So the blind man went and washed and came back able to see.

His neighbours, and all the people who used to see him begging, wondered. They said, “Is this not the beggar who used to sit here?” Some said, “He is the one.” Others said, “No, but he looks like him.” But the man himself said, “I am he.”

Then they asked him, “How is it that your eyes were opened?” And he answered, “The Man called Jesus made a mud paste, put it on my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went, and washed, and I could see.” They asked, “Where is He?” and the man answered, “I do not know.”

The people brought the man who had been blind to the Pharisees. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made mud paste and opened his eyes. The Pharisees asked him again, “How did you recover your sight?” And he said, “He put paste on my eyes, and I washed, and now I see.”

Some of the Pharisees said, “That Man is not from God, for He works on the Sabbath”; but others wondered, “How can a sinner perform such miraculous signs?” They were divided, and they questioned the blind man again, “What do you think of this Man who opened your eyes?” And he answered, “He is a Prophet!”

After all this, the Jews refused to believe that the man had been blind and had recovered his sight; so they called his parents and asked them, “Is this your son? You say that he was born blind, how is it that he now sees?” The parents answered, “He really is our son and he was born blind; but how it is that he now sees, we do not know, neither do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is old enough. Let him speak for himself.”

The parents said this because they feared the Jews, who had already agreed that whoever confessed Jesus to be the Christ was to be expelled from the synagogue. Because of that his parents said, “He is old enough, ask him.”

So a second time the Pharisees called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Tell us the truth; we know that this Man is a sinner.” He replied, “I do not know whether He is a sinner or not; I only know that I was blind and now I see.”

They said to him, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” He replied, “I have told you already and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?”

Then they started to insult him. “Become His disciple yourself! We are disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses; but as for this Man, we do not know where He comes from.”

The man replied, “It is amazing that you do not know where the Man comes from, and yet He opened my eyes! We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone honours God and does His will, God listens to him. Never, since the world began, has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.”

They answered him, “You were born a sinner and now you teach us!” And they expelled him. Jesus heard that they had expelled him. He found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “Who is He, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said, “You have seen Him and He is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe”; and he worshipped Him.

Jesus said, “I came into this world to carry out a judgment : Those who do not see shall see, and those who see shall become blind.” Some Pharisees stood by and asked Him, “So we are blind?” And Jesus answered, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty. But you say, ‘We see’; this is the proof of your sin.”

Alternative Reading (shorter version)

 

John 9 : 1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

As Jesus walked along, He saw a man who had been blind from birth.

As Jesus said this, He made paste with spittle and clay, and rubbed it on the eyes of the blind man. Then He said, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam.” (This word means sent.) So the blind man went and washed and came back able to see.

His neighbours, and all the people who used to see him begging, wondered. They said, “Is this not the beggar who used to sit here?” Some said, “He is the one.” Others said, “No, but he looks like him.” But the man himself said, “I am he.”

The people brought the man who had been blind to the Pharisees. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made mud paste and opened his eyes. The Pharisees asked him again, “How did you recover your sight?” And he said, “He put paste on my eyes, and I washed, and now I see.”

Some of the Pharisees said, “That Man is not from God, for He works on the Sabbath”; but others wondered, “How can a sinner perform such miraculous signs?” They were divided, and they questioned the blind man again, “What do you think of this Man who opened your eyes?” And he answered, “He is a Prophet!”

They answered him, “You were born a sinner and now you teach us!” And they expelled him. Jesus heard that they had expelled him. He found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “Who is He, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said, “You have seen Him and He is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe”; and he worshipped Him.

 

Sunday, 24 November 2013 : Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Christ the King (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the last great feast in our Liturgical Year, that is the great solemnity of Christ the King, or in full, of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. This is the last Sunday of our Liturgical Year, and from next Sunday onwards we will be entering into the season of Advent, in preparation for Christmas.

This is the feast, the great solemnity which marked the end of the year of our liturgy, but this year, it is even more glorious. Why so? Because on this year’s solemnity of Christ the King, we also celebrate the closing of the Year of the Faith, which Pope Benedict XVI had initiated on 12 October of last year and ran for a whole year until today. Indeed, today is a great occasion, to celebrate our faith, the faith we have in Jesus, our King and our Saviour.

Today, we glorify Jesus Christ our Lord, the divine Word of God incarnated into flesh in Jesus. He is King, and He is the Lord of all the universe, of all creation, whom He had created at the beginning of time. And yet, He chose to lower Himself, as the proof of His dedication, to those whom He had been king for. As He is the king of all creations, including all of us, we are all His people. And to show His love and dedication for us, bound to death that is our fate for sin, He came down to us, and for us, giving Himself for us that we can be saved.

Yes, Jesus although He was not obliged to help us, He still gave Himself to us, opening to us the floodgates of His mercy and love. In order to do so, He came to us, to fulfill God’s plan of salvation. And He did not do so in a manner so as to dazzle or amaze people. Instead, He came in silence, in the quiet night, that night in Bethlehem. No inn or lodging was made available for the king, and the king of kings made His entry into this world in a humble and dirty stable, fit for animals but not for men.

That is because, brothers and sisters in Christ, our Lord’s kingship is not a kingship of this world. He is the true king of all things, and His kingdom is not a kingdom of this world. That is why, if kings of this world are usually rich, privileged, and powerful, the Lord as the king of all kings is instead humble, gentle, and benevolent. He did not flaunt His power and authority, and instead He worked with complete obedience and devotion to the Lord His Father.

When Satan tempted Jesus in the desert as He fasted, he was unable to convince Him with the allures of glory, which are human glory, worldly glories, which would have tempted most if not all of us. All of these were the worldly glories that Jesus as King would have done, if He is a king of this world. He would have taken it easy, as after all, what is mankind, so sinful and rebellious that they are worth saving? Such would be the thoughts of the devil to Jesus. Yet, Jesus would have none of that and rebuked the devil.

In Jesus lies the salvation of this world, that is the redemption of all mankind. He did so by offering Himself, the perfect and unblemished lamb of sacrifice, exchanging for us our fated deaths, into the new life He had prepared for us. He paid the price in full to ransom us, a price He paid with none other than His own flesh and blood, shed from the cross as He hung above it between the heavens and the earth.

The kingship of Jesus is not for Him to enjoy being a king, and neither it is for Him to enjoy good life, as many of the kings and leaders of our world had done. The kingship of Jesus is one of service, dedication, and love, in which, He as king, is our shepherd, the leader of all in our way towards complete and perfect reunion with God. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, leads us in our way towards the Lord.

But many of us openly mocked Jesus and His kingship, often not recognising what He has done for our sake, and rejecting His offers of goodness through salvation of souls. We are indeed often like the prodigal thief crucified with Jesus, as well as the Roman soldiers and those who had crucified Him, mocking Him openly of His kingship, questioning His power and authority.

Let us all reflect, how often do we all, even in our daily actions, that we have rejected Jesus, that we have rebuked Him, and even made a mockery of Him in front of His enemies. And yet, if you all noticed, He did not care. After all, He is the Lord and King of all creations, of all things that were, that are, and that will ever be. He is omnipotent beyond any imagination, and He could just destroy us with a single thought, and yet He did not do that.

He cared for us and loved us, to the point of coming down for us. Remember what Jesus told us about the parable of the shepherd. How a good shepherd will leave his good flock and go out all the way in search of the one that is lost. That was precisely what Jesus had done, our Good Shepherd. He went all the way to save us, the lost ones, that we can be reunited again with the flock of Christ, destined for eternal salvation.

Such a good king we have, don’t you all think? Yes, that is Christ our Lord and King, a king who does not just demand obedience and service from his subjects, but instead as a king who serves and loves his people. But many of us refuse to acknowledge His kingship and reject Him, just as His own people rejected Him as He hung on the cross to save them.

Whenever we sin and commit things against the laws of God, and in violation of the Lord’s love for us, we refuse to admit the kingship of Jesus our Lord. Whenever we sin and commit things evil in the eyes of God and refuse to admit them and change from our sinful ways, we act in the same way as the unrepentant thief, who mocked Jesus for His kingship.

Instead, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us be like the repentant thief. Let us be like him in that he openly acknowledged not only that Jesus is truly king and Lord, but also that he reveals and admits the depth of his own sin and his unworthiness before the same king, asking in deep humility and shame for forgiveness by the Lord.

And he was forgiven, and given a place in heaven, literally being the first one that Jesus saved through His death and resurrection. We too can follow in the repentant thief’s footsteps, provided that we realise and reflect on the depth of our own sinfulness, and resolve that from now on, we will change our attitude and truly accept the Lord our God as our Lord and Saviour.

So today, as we also celebrate together, the end of the holy Year of the Faith, as well as the great solemnity of Christ the King, let us together with the entire Church, all the same children of God, renew our profession of faith before our Lord and King, taking our vows that we will, from now on, live an upright and righteous life, in accordance with the will of God, and open ourselves to His infinite love.

Let us proclaim that Jesus is the king of all kings, our king and our Saviour. And let us also usher in this era of mercy and love. Surrender ourselves to the Lord’s mercy and love as the repentant sinner had done, and keep our faith strong and burning in God! God bless us all with His Son, Jesus, our King. Amen.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 19 : 1-10

When Jesus entered Jericho and passed through the city, a man named Zaccheus lived there. He was a tax collector and a wealthy man. He wanted to see what Jesus was like, but he was a short man and could not see Him because of the crowd.

So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree. From there he would be able to see Jesus, who was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, come down quickly, for I must stay at your house today.” So Zaccheus climbed down and received Him joyfully.

All the people who saw it began to grumble, and said, “He has gone as a guest to the house of a sinner.” But Zaccheus spoke to Jesus, “Half of what I own, Lord, I will give to the poor and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.”

Looking at him Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house today, for he is also a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

Sunday, 3 November 2013 : 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we hear today how the Lord loves all, even the rich, the privileged, and the sinners. He cares for everyone without distinction of class or rank. What matters to Him is, how dedicated we can be to Him, giving all of our very beings, committed to Him in prayer.

Today, we heard the story of Zaccheus the dwarf, who was a tax collector and a rich man. He climbed the tree despite the obvious difficulty he faced because of his height, just so that he can see Jesus who came to visit the area. The Lord praised him and his faith, particularly in front of those who slander him and Jesus Himself for interacting with a person widely considered as a traitor and a great sinner at the time of Jesus.

This was because, at that time, the place where Jesus conducted His ministry, the present day Israel and Palestine, was under the rule and authority of the Roman Empire, as the province of Judea. The Romans imposed taxes on all their provinces and territories, and in this, they employed the local merchants and agents to conduct the tax collection.

Those people then became wealthy, as they were well paid by their Roman employers, but they became the objects of scorn by their own people, seeing them as traitors who sold their race and their nation to the Romans and get profits and much money from doing so. This is of course not true, but it is what most people believed in, and as such, they developed stereotypes against the tax collectors like Zaccheus and dissociated themselves from these ‘wicked’ people.

That was why the people sneered when Jesus said to Zaccheus that He wanted to have a meal at his place and eat together with him. They did so because they must have thought, how can a teacher and a prophet (to them) like Jesus be mingling together with such sinners, traitors in fact no less. This is compared to the Pharisees who were well respected in the Jewish society, who disdained sinners and considered themselves holy above all others.

It is their pride that became their downfall. They pride themselves in their holiness and great piety, which they had achieved through prayer and rituals they went through every day. But in fact, in their hearts, they do not have God. God was absent from their hearts, and His love did not take root in them. Instead, it is in ‘sinful’ man like Zaccheus, where the Lord truly resided, and made his heart His residence.

Our Lord and God is truly loving and merciful, brothers and sisters, because He is willing to forgive the sins of even great sinners like Zaccheus, providing that they come and seek His mercy and love in humility. And that was precisely what Zaccheus had done. He surrendered himself, baring his sins to God, and made a public proclamation of faith to God. He was sinful, yes, and yet through his humility and love for God, he was forgiven and given glory, while those who slandered sinners and did not acknowledge their sins were rebuked.

God gives mankind many chances to repent, to acknowledge their sinfulness, abandon their old lifestyle of sin, and embrace His laws and precepts, that is basically love, following what Christ had told us in His ministry. Yet, to many of us, it is not easy for us to look away from our sins and instead focus ourselves towards God. We have often been so immersed in our sins, that we have been ensnared deeply by them. Yet, that does not mean that we have no hope.

Indeed, as I always would like to say, the greater the sinner is, the more likely that one is to be aware and to be ashamed of his or her sins. The greater a sinner is, the more that the person can be aware of how evil his or her actions, words, and deeds had been, and consequently approach closer and closer towards the throne of the Divine Mercy, that is God.

This is of course not for everyone, as not many will come to realisation of their sins, or have the desire to repent from those sins. Regardless of how great and how many the sins we have committed, it is often that we either ignore the sins we have committed or commit even more sins. As such, we fall deeper and deeper into the path towards damnation, and away from God our loving Father.

We have to be more like Zaccheus, for despite his sinfulness and how he was slandered in the society for their perception of him, he did not shy himself from meeting the Lord and making the effort to come and see Him, again despite his short stature which made it difficult for him to do so. We ought to be more like him, in making that effort, to seek the Lord, remorseful and shameful of our own sins, and make the same commitment as Zaccheus, to do what is good from then on. Either as an act of charity as Zaccheus had done, or through even simple acts of love to others in need.

Another thing that we have been taught today is, not to become like the people who slandered Zaccheus and Jesus our Lord, simply because of their prejudices and bias, formed by preformed concepts they had on Zaccheus as the ‘traitorous’ tax collector. We should not be quick to judge others for what they are, and indeed we must not judge, as Jesus, in other instances had taught us so.

Why so? That is because if we judge others, then we too can be judged, and often that we who did not notice our own sins, will be judged more than the one whom we had judged. We should never form any prejudice or preconceptions in our minds about anyone, and even if the person has shortcomings in him or her. Rather, what we should do is that we should encourage and help each other, supporting each other on the path towards salvation.

Therefore, let us today aspire to become more like Zaccheus, seeking the Lord in our lives, and vow to change our ways for the better. May the Lord who loves us continue to watch over us, bless us, and empower us always. Amen.

Sunday, 3 November 2013 : 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 19 : 1-10

When Jesus entered Jericho and passed through the city, a man named Zaccheus lived there. He was a tax collector and a wealthy man. He wanted to see what Jesus was like, but he was a short man and could not see Him because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree. From there he would be able to see Jesus, who was going to pass that way.

When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, Zaccheus, come down quickly, for I must stay at your house today.” So Zaccheus climbed down and received Him joyfully.

All the people who saw it began to grumble, and said, “He has gone as a guest to the house of a sinner.” But Zaccheus spoke to Jesus, “Half of what I own, Lord, I will give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.”

Looking at him, Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house today, for he is also a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

Sunday, 27 October 2013 : 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 18 : 9-14

Jesus told another parable to some people, fully convinced of their own righteousness, who looked down on others : “Two men went up to the Temple to pray; one was a Pharisee, and the other a tax collector.”

“The Pharisee stood by himself, and said, ‘I thank You, God, that I am not like other people, grasping, crooked, adulterous, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and give the tenth of all my income to the Temple.'”

“In the meantime the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.'”

“I tell you, when this man went back to his house, he had been reconciled with God, but not the other. For whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be raised up.”

Saturday, 21 September 2013 : Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of one of the Twelve Apostles, that is of St. Matthew the Evangelist, one of the four writers of the Holy Gospels. St. Matthew was once the tax collector, known also as Levi, whom the Lord called out of his previous life as money collector for the Roman overlords, to be the collector of souls, to take part in the salvation of mankind.

Brethren, today the Lord wants us to know that firstly, He loves us all without condition, with all of His heart. Then, He also cares for all of us His children, whom He loves best over all of His other creations, particularly the lost sheep, the ones who had been lost to darkness. That was why He mentioned the need for these lost ones for His love, and He made Himself available for them, calling them up from the depth of darkness into the light.

The Lord Himself called His Apostles and disciples from the rank of sinners, those who were sinful in various ways, from various backgrounds, and all of them, in one way or another, repented from their sinful past, and open themselves to God’s love, and eventually become great tools of salvation through which Christ our Lord made manifest His saving power. And St. Matthew, once sinner and tax collector, became the writer of the Holy Gospels, the bearer of the Good News of salvation.

However, being the followers of Christ were not an easy thing, just as it is not easy in our world today. There will always be opposition and even persecution against us, just as the world had hated Christ, they too will hate us, His followers and disciples. Many sneered at us, as they had done so for the Apostles and disciples of Christ through the generations. They mocked us for the sins we have, although they themselves were sinners and did not repent.

Jesus was mocked by the Pharisees and the scribes very often, for eating and gathering together with sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes, whom they considered to be the lowest tier in the society, and whom they considered damned and cursed to hell. That was why, they distanced themselves from these sinners, trying to keep their own purity, disassociating themselves from all these ‘impurities’.

Yet, in doing so, they had instead incurred the wrath of the Lord. Not only that they praised themselves for their own achievements and deeds, but also that they had put down in contempt, the people of God whom they were supposed to lead. They had not reached out to them, and instead distanced themselves from the most needy of God’s people and condemned them for their sinfulness while they themselves were equally sinful as well, if not even more sinful.

The Lord brought His disciples from the depth of their sinfulness, lifting them up, and bringing them, including St. Matthew, from their fate in hell, to the new heavenly glory, with Him in heaven. Yet, the process is not a simple one, brethren, as the path was truly difficult, filled with the traps and devices of the evil one, attempting to bring them from God. All but Judas Iscariot survived those tests victorious, rebuking the devil and his temptations.

They were sorely tempted, and fear crept into their hearts when the Lord was arrested at the Garden of Gethsemane, after His Last Supper with them. They were scattered and broken, as if sheep without a shepherd. Even St. Peter, the leader of all the apostles and disciples of Christ, fell, and denied Christ three times, out of fear for his own life and safety.

But, brethren, this is where they were different from Judas the traitor, as they persevered while Judas gave in fully to Satan’s advances, and in the end, chose to take the quick way out by suicide, instead of seeking for the Lord’s mercy and reaffirmed his faith and love for Him, as the other Apostles had done.

The Lord had prepared His apostles through trials and difficulties, as St. Paul had mentioned, and they passed, not because they were righteous, but because they had risen up from their sinful ways towards righteousness, towards their love and dedication, for the Lord their Master and our God, and towards all of God’s children, whom they spilled their blood and shed their life for, following the very example Christ had set Himself.

They feared no human authority nor persecutions, for the Lord was always with them throughout their mission journey, to bring all God’s people and gather them to Himself, that they may be saved. St. Matthew was a part of this, and through the Gospel he wrote, inspired by the Holy Spirit, he saved many souls from damnation.

He was himself once a sinner, a tax collector shunned by many of his own people, branded as traitors, since they were seen as the collaborators of the Romans, and yet, he became a great fisher of men, bringing many towards the Lord their God. What then, about the Pharisees? What is their fate? It is possible to deduce that indeed, their lack of true faith and love for God, had doomed them to hell for eternity, for they care nothing about their brethren or God, and all they ever cared about was themselves.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today, as we commemorate this great feast of St. Matthew the Apostle and the Evangelist, let us follow in his footsteps, in his readiness to leave all that he had once had, and abandon his old, sinful life, to start anew in Christ, that the Lord who loves all, will put His Spirit within us, empowering us to be like the Apostles of old. May the Lord continue to bless us and embrace us with His love, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, 19 September 2013 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Januarius, Bishop and Martyr (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear a very powerful story, one which certainly resonates with all of us. Firstly, it is that we ought not to let our  apparent inferiority and weakness be an obstacle to us, and allow others to belittle us because of our apparent shortcomings. That is because, brethren, even the least one among mankind, and the worst of all sinners have hope in them, that is hope in Jesus the Lord.

It is often that people are ostracised, bullied, and treated badly, simply because they appeared weak to their surrounding people, simply because they are perceived to be inferior, and therefore, to the people around them, they are not worthy of anything good. We are indeed ourselves also guilty of the same thing, as we often let our prejudices and pre-formed generalisations and mindsets to interfere in our approach to these less fortunate ones.

And that is how we belittle others around us and ostracise them, often even without we ourselves knowing that we had done such evil acts on our fellow brethren, simply because we are often not aware of the impacts of the actions we had done. Indeed, in fact, we have to make the habit of continuously reflecting on our own actions, especially our own shortcomings, that we become aware that as mankind, each of us have our own shortcomings, our unworthiness before God, and therefore we should not judge others, less so belittling them or treating them badly.

That was exactly what the Pharisee in the story of Jesus in the Gospel today had not done. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law are the supposed experts and examples for the entire people of God, because of their piety and strict observation of the entire Jewish laws. Yet, as Christ had repeatedly pointed out in many different occasions, they did not truly have God in their hearts, as what they truly yearned was the glory and praise of men instead of the love of God.

They give in to their pride and arrogance, especially being placed in high esteem by the people, that they often judge others whom they deemed to be not as ‘holy’ as they were. They condemned prostitutes, tax collectors, and those they had considered as sinners in general. They failed to notice that they too were sinners, and in condemning these people, they have in fact judge others, while they themselves ought to be judged for their own wickedness.

They acted mighty and proud, proud with their great ‘piety’ and ‘obedience’ to the Law, but in fact, all these were empty, because they did not have God in their hearts. It is such that they have always been in the way during the Lord’s ministry in this world, planting obstacles wherever they could, and sowed dissent and trouble for Jesus and His disciples.

They failed to see the great repentance in the woman, the great humility in her as she approached the Lord and Saviour. She showed her regret for her sins through her tears, and through her complete humility. She did not show her faith, love, and dedication for the Lord through loud and long prayers as the Pharisees had done, but through her concrete actions. And to the Lord our God, her faith and love for Him was truly far greater than all of them combined.

Prayers are important, brethren, as it is our way to communicate with the Lord our God, in a two-way communication between Him and us. That is why, it is even more important to make sure that the prayers that we make truly are prayers worthy of our God, that is not like the prayers of the Pharisees.

We must humble ourselves before the Lord as the prostitute had done, seeking for God’s most merciful heart, throwing far away our pride and arrogance. The Pharisees liked to praise themselves and their ‘piety’ in prayers, and did not humble themselves for their sins. This is what we must not do.

Today, brethren, we celebrate the feast day of St. Januarius, who was once the Bishop of Naples in the early Church in Italy. St. Januarius lived and ministered through the times of difficulty for the Church and the faithful. He worked hard for the faithful, and ministered piously, even despite the harsh persecutions of the faithful, by the Emperor Diocletian, who led the last great persecution of the Church.

St. Januarius died protecting his faith and in his loving service to the people of God. As a result, he provided much ground for the Church to continue to grow and he also defended the faith against threats both external and internal. Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us follow in the footsteps of St. Januarius, to serve the Lord with passion and commitment. Let us also be humble before the Lord our God. May the Lord who is merciful and loving, continue to watch over us and protect us sinners, that we may return to Him and praise Him forevermore.

Thursday, 19 September 2013 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Januarius, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red

Luke 7 : 36-50

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to share His meal, so He went to the Pharisee’s home, and as usual reclined at the table to eat. And it happened that a woman of this town, who was known as a sinner, heard that He was in the Pharisee’s house.

She brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and stood beside Him, at His feet, weeping. She wet His feet with tears, she dried them with her hair, she dried them with her hair, she kissed His feet and poured the perfume on them.

The Pharisee who had invited Jesus was watching, and thought, “If this Man were a prophet, He would know what sort of a person is touching Him; Is this woman not a sinner?”

Then Jesus spoke to the Pharisee and said, “Simon, I have something to ask you.” He answered, “Speak, Master.” And Jesus said, “Two people were in debt to the same creditor. One owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty. As they were unable to pay him back, he graciously cancelled the debts of both. Now, which of them will love him more?”

Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, who was forgiven more.” And Jesus said, “You are right.” And turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? You gave me no water for My feet when I entered your house, but she has washed My feet with her tears and dried them with her hair.”

“You did not welcome Me with a kiss, but she has not stopped kissing My feet since she came in. You provided no oil for My head, but she has poured perfume on My feet. This is why, I tell you, her sins, her many sins, are forgiven, because  of her great love. But the one who is forgiven little, has little love.”

Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others reclining with Him at the table began to wonder, “Now this Man claims to forgive sins!” But Jesus again spoke to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace!”