Friday, 19 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, celebrating the love of God pouring forth out from His most loving Heart, as He has revealed to His servants, namely St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and earlier on through influences on mystic saints such as St. Gertrude the Great. Ultimately, the long development of the revelations led to the Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus as we are familiar with today.

The Lord appeared in visions to early visionaries such as St. Gertrude the Great, St. Lutgarde and St. Mechtilde, speaking of the love from His loving Heart for mankind, and calling on all to love Him more and to dedicate themselves to His loving Heart, which He dedicated to all peoples as a show of His love, the Heart filled with great love for each and every one of us, a Heart that is so loving and gentle towards us, as a symbol of His eternal and enduring love for us all.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque received the most significant series of visions of the Lord and His Most Sacred Heart, as He told the devout servant about the Devotion to His Most Sacred Heart, by the dedication of the first Fridays of every month to the reception of the Holy Eucharist and devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and then also Eucharistic Adoration and Holy Hours dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Through these visions, gradually, the devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus which had begun earlier in the past centuries rapidly gained popularity and adoption by many in the Church.

The Lord in His appearances to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque also showed His heart and the anguish and sorrow which He had for the sins and disobedience which we had shown to Him despite the vastness of love, compassion and mercy that He has lavished upon us. The Lord said that, “Behold the Heart that has loved so many men, and yet, instead of gratitude, all I received were ingratitude…” and asking in particular that the Friday after the week in which the Solemnity of Corpus Christi is celebrated be dedicated to Him as the Feast of Reparation to the Most Sacred Heart.

That is why today we celebrate this great Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, continuing a long standing tradition and practice of the Church celebrating the mystery of the Sacred Heart since the fourteenth century. And as the devotion spread rapidly, eventually, the Blessed Pope Pius IX extended and placed this great Feast and Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in its current form and honour. And the Lord also promised to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque that all those who devoted themselves to His Most Sacred Heart with faith will be protected and receive the graces of God.

Now then, as we dedicate ourselves anew to the Lord in His Most Sacred Heart today, let us all then spend some time to reflect on just how fortunate we have been to be beloved by God, and just how wonderful is His love for each and every one of us, keeping in mind what He Himself had said when He appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, that though He has loved us all so dearly, yet what He received was not gratitude, but rather immense ingratitude and lack of faith from so many of us.

This is what we all need to focus on today, and look through our lives, our actions in life thus far and see where we may have fallen short of what we ought to have done, that is to love the same God Who has loved us so much with the same love, with the same energy and enthusiasm, with the same strength and commitment. In our first reading today taken from the Book of Deuteronomy, all of us heard of the Covenant that God had established with His people after He brought them out by mighty deeds from the land of Egypt, and how He has cared for them and provided for them, as a people consecrated to Him in holiness.

And yet, those people who have been so blessed to be chosen by God did not appreciate or be grateful at how fortunate they had been to have been such blessed by God. Instead, they chose to disobey Him, committing all sorts of evil, even right from the moment when He had just established His Covenant with them, as they erected a golden calf and made it god over them in opposition to God. And there were many other occasions throughout the history of the Israelites that they had certainly brought the Lord to much sorrow, grief and anger at their disobedience and stubbornness.

And yet, the Lord still chose to love them and to give them opportunities, one after another, sending many prophets again and again to them to help them and to lead them to Himself, that they might repent from their sins and turn away from their disobedience. Last of all, as the fulfilment of what He has revealed through His prophets, He sent His very own Begotten Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, to be the Saviour of all His people. How did He do that? By offering Himself as the perfect sacrificial offering on the Cross, that by sharing in His own shed Body and outpoured Blood, all of us who shared in Him, we have the promise of everlasting life with us.

That is why we celebrate this great Solemnity just within the week after the Solemnity of the Corpus Christi, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord, as instructed by the Lord Himself, clearly as an important reminder that we have the loving Heart of our Lord, filled with His love that is so great and wonderful, so great a love that He has willingly offered Himself and sacrificed His own life, Body and shed His own Blood, suffering the most bitter of sufferings and persecutions for our sake.

It was for the great love of God that we have been blessed to know this love through Christ, as highlighted by St. John in his Epistle which is our second reading today. God has manifested His love for us through His Son, and by His actions and most loving and perfectly selfless sacrifice, He has showed us that He is Love Himself, and that all of us who are His people and adopted children, must also therefore be filled with the same love. We are all called to look at the Lord and remember His love, and be loving just as He has loved us.

Are we capable of doing that, brothers and sisters in Christ? Certainly we are capable of showing love just as the Lord has shown His love towards us. In each and every one of us, God has shown the potential to love, and sown the seeds of love within us, by the Holy Spirit Whom all of us have received through baptism, and which has been strengthened through the Sacrament of Confirmation. All of us are creatures of love, and the question is not whether we are capable of showing love, but rather if we want to show this love, to God and to our fellow brethren.

Today we also mark the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life, keeping in mind all those who have been called to model themselves after the Lord’s examples, especially His love for each and every one of us. To those who have given themselves to the ministry of the ordained priesthood, we pray for them all, that they truly may model themselves and their own hearts after that of the Lord’s own Most Sacred Heart, filled with love for all mankind.

We need to recognise that to be priests is a very difficult undertaking for those who have chosen to answer the Lord’s call and dedicate their lives. They are also humans just like us, with their flaws and imperfections, but they are at the same time held up to a much higher expectation and standard, being those who have been entrusted with the care and guardianship over the people of God. But then they also faced a lot of difficulties and challenges, as well as daily temptations and pressures from various origins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why all of us need to support our priests and all those who have dedicated themselves to this holy and sacred calling in life. And we can do that by living with faith ourselves and devoting ourselves to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, showing the same love that He has shown us, in our actions and interactions with one another. Let us all model ourselves after the Lord’s heart, that our own heart be filled with love, and love graciously and tenderly as the Lord Himself has shown us.

May the Lord continue to be our guide, strengthen us in faith and love us all the time, that we may draw ever closer to the love of God made evident to us through His Most Sacred Heart. O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we entrust ourselves to You, and we beseech You to show Your ever enduring love and compassion, mercifully forgiving us our sins and reconciling us to Yourself, that we may indeed have our rest in You, we who are weary and heavily burdened, that through You, we may truly be free. Amen.

Friday, 19 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 11 : 25-30

On that occasion, Jesus said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I praise You; because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to simple people. Yes, Father, this was Your gracious will.”

“Everything has been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father; and no one knows the Father except the Son, and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For My yoke is easy; and My burden is light.”

Friday, 19 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 4 : 7-16

My dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves, is born of God and knows God. Those who do not love have not known God, for God is Love. How did the love of God appear among us? God sent His only Son into this world, that we might have life, through Him.

This is love : not that we loved God, but that, He first loved us and sent His Son, as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if such has been the love of God, we, too, must love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us, and His love comes to its perfection in us.

How may we know that we live in God and He in us? Because God has given us His Spirit. We ourselves have seen, and declare, that the Father sent His Son to save the world. Those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in them, and they in God.

We have known the love of God and have believed in it. God is Love. The one who lives in love, and God in him.

Friday, 19 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8 and 10

Praise YHVH, my soul; all my being, praise His holy Name! Praise YHVH, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

He forgives all your sins and heals all your sickness; He redeems your life from destruction and crowns you with love and compassion.

YHVH restores justice and secures the rights of the oppressed. He has made known His ways to Moses; and His deeds, to the people of Israel.

YHVH is gracious and merciful, abounding in love and slow to anger; He does not treat us according to our sins, nor does He punish us as we deserve.

Friday, 19 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Deuteronomy 7 : 6-11

You are a people consecrated to YHVH, your God. YHVH has chosen you from among all the peoples on the face of the earth, that you may be His own people. YHVH has bound Himself to you and has chosen you, not because you are the most numerous among all the peoples (on the contrary, you are the least). Rather, He has chosen you because of His love for you and to fulfil the oath He made to your fathers.

Therefore, with a firm hand YHVH brought you out from slavery in Egypt, from the power of Pharaoh. So know that YHVH, your God, is the true and faithful God. He keeps His covenant, and His love reaches to the thousandth generation for those who love Him and fulfil His commandments, but He punishes in their own persons those who hate Him and He repays them without delay.

So keep the commandments, the norms and the laws that today I command you to practice.

Friday, 28 June 2019 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, celebrating the popular devotion to Our Lord’s Most loving and Sacred Heart, as first revealed through St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and all others through whom God had revealed the great love in His Most Sacred Heart, the great love of a loving Father, the love of a most loving and compassionate Shepherd, Our God.

In the Scripture passages we have heard today, most prominently the Lord was depicted as the Good Shepherd, as the Figure Who showed great love and compassion, care and mercy to us all, who are of the Lord’s flock, His most beloved sheep. This is most profound example used by the Lord Himself to show how much He has loved His people, in a community where many among the people had the profession of shepherds.

In the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, the passage which is our first reading today spoke of the Lord referring to Himself as the Shepherd of Israel, the One Who would guide His people to the right path, protecting them from harm, binding and healing their injuries, watching over them and looking out for those who have been lost from Him. He would guide them all with justice, mercy and compassion, which is exactly what the Lord Jesus would reiterate with His message of Himself as the Good Shepherd.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord again referred to Himself before the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law as the Good Shepherd, showing to those people how God is loving and merciful, kind and compassionate to all of His beloved ones, even to the worst and most rebellious, the most wicked and the greatest of sinners among them. No one is ever beyond the reach of God’s love and compassionate mercy.

In order for us to understand the significance of the encounter and the words the Lord spoke to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law more clearly, we must understand the philosophy and the actions that those two groups of people often took at that time. They put the obedience and adherence to the Law over everything else, and they were very particular with how those laws and regulations are preserved and followed.

And they deemed all those who did not follow the Law as they have followed and preserved it to be inferior and unworthy, to be sinners and undeserving people while at the same time thinking highly of themselves and being proud of their own obedience and adherence to the strict observation of the Jewish customs, traditions and laws, and being highly respected by the people and being very influential in the community.

That was why they were very ardent in their prejudiced attitude against the prostitutes, tax collectors and other people deemed to be sinners in general. They also thought of people with disabilities and sicknesses as those whom God had punished and cursed because of their sins. They looked down on them and rejected them, and when the Lord sought all these people, they immediately cast the same prejudice on the Lord, seeing Him approaching those whom they deemed to be unworthy and unclean.

This is where the Lord showed His love and revealed what it truly means for one to obey the Lord and His laws. Mankind might have been unfaithful, wicked and filled with sins, and yet, fundamentally we are all still His beloved creations, His beloved children and people. We are the sheep to Him, Who is the Shepherd of all of us. And a shepherd loves his flock of sheep above all else, and a true and dedicated shepherd will do everything just so that his sheep will be good, safe and well taken care of.

Sometimes the sheep end up going wayward on its own, being misled or distracted by things that probably sparked its curiosity, and the sheep becomes lost from the flock. The shepherd knows all of his sheep, and every single one of them are precious to him. If one of the sheep is lost, the shepherd will come to know of this very quickly, and unless he does not care for his sheep, he will do whatever he can to find that lost sheep.

A sheep that is left to wander on its own is in a great danger because of all the threats that can destroy it, from falling into a ravine, or off a cliff, of being hunted and killed by wolves and predators among many others. And how are all these relevant to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is what each and every one of us have experienced ourselves and perhaps even are experiencing now at this very moment.

For it is sin and the temptations to sin which have led us astray from the Lord, end up in us being separated from God and from the flock of God’s faithful as we end up falling deeper and deeper into sin. We have become the lost sheep of the Lord, and the Lord Who is our Good Shepherd does not want us to be lost from Him. Rather, He wants us to be reconciled to Him and be found, and He had done everything He could to gain us back.

That is what He meant when He said that the shepherd would seek the one lost sheep even though there was only one lost sheep among one hundred sheep in all. The shepherd would do everything to find that one lost sheep so that the lost sheep may be found and be reunited with the rest of the flock, safe from all the dangers that could have happened to it if it remained lost and separated from the flock.

Unless we are found and reunited with our loving Shepherd, we will fall deeper and deeper into sin, and from there into the danger of eternal damnation, out of which there is no escape from eternal despair and suffering, annihilation and total destruction. This is not the fate that God, our loving Father, Creator and Shepherd wants to happen to us, because He loves each and every one of us so much.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate this great love which Our Lord has shown from His most loving and compassionate heart, His Most Sacred Heart, which was filled with love for each and every one of us, so much so that, He did the ultimate act of love to show us just how much He loves us and how precious each and every one of us are to Him. He took up His Cross, suffer persecution, pain and the worst of pains and went through a most humiliating death so that, all of us may live.

That is just how much Our Lord loves us, in His loving and bleeding Most Sacred Heart. In the depiction of His Most Sacred Heart, we see the Lord’s Heart being surrounded by a crown of thorns and with a great burning flame representing His ever passionate and burning love for us. And that crown of thorns represents all the pains and sufferings He had suffered for the sake of that love He has for us.

And now, we have those whom God had called to be His caretakers, His shepherds made in His own image and example, namely our priests, who are shepherds of God’s flock, representing the one true Shepherd in our midst. They are the ones who go around the world taking care of us all, God’s beloved people, showing the same love that God has poured forth from His Most Sacred Heart.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today that is why, on this Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we also pray as the whole Church together for those who have been called by God, to be His servants and followers, His priests, dedicating themselves into the priestly life and to shepherd His beloved people. On this day, we gather our prayers for them, that each and every one of them may be courageous and be loving just as Our Lord has loved us so deeply.

And at the same time, let us all realise this great love that God has shown us, that He had done everything for our sake, enduring every kinds of imaginable sufferings of the worst kind, that we may be saved. He did all of that in order to save us and to reunite us to Himself. Each and every one of us are truly precious to Him. Next time, before we even contemplate to sin or to disobey God, let us remember that every single sins we commit, no matter how small, how insignificant they may seem to us, they are wounds we inflict on the Lord, that He bore willingly for our sake.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all strive to be better disciples of the Lord, and be more dedicated to Him, remembering how He has loved us so wonderfully and generously despite of all of our nonsense and disobedience. His patience and most loving Sacred Heart is truly our hope, and we should cling closely to this hope we have in Him. May the Lord Jesus Christ, His most loving Sacred Heart continue to love us all, now and forevermore as always. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us all. Amen.

Friday, 28 June 2019 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 15 : 3-7

At that time, Jesus told the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law this parable : “Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and seek the lost one till he finds it? And finding it, will he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders? Then he will call his friends and neighbours together, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’”

“I tell you, in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine decent people, who do not need to repent.”

Friday, 28 June 2019 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Romans 5 : 5b-11

Because the Holy Spirit has been given to us, pouring into our hearts the love of God. Consider, moreover, the time that Christ died for us : when we were still helpless and unable to do anything. Few would accept to die for an upright person; although, for a very good person, perhaps someone would dare to die.

But see how God manifested His love for us : while we were still sinners, Christ died for us; and we have become just, through His Blood. With much more reason now He will save us from any condemnation. Once enemies, we have been reconciled with God through the death of His Son; with much more reason, now we may be saved, through His life. Not only that, but we even boast in God because of Christ Jesus, Our Lord, through Whom we have been reconciled.

Friday, 28 June 2019 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 22 : 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.

He guides me through the right paths for His Name’s sake. Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are beside me : Your rod and Your staff comfort me.

You spread a table before me in the presence of my foes. You anoint my head with oil; my cup is overflowing.

Goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life. I shall dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

Friday, 28 June 2019 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 34 : 11-16

Indeed YHVH says this : I, Myself, will care for My sheep and watch over them. As the shepherd looks after his flock when he finds them scattered, so will I watch over My sheep; and gather them from all the places where they were scattered in a time of cloud and fog. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from their countries. I will lead them to their own land; and pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in all the valleys and inhabited regions of the land.

I will take them to good pastures on the high mountains of Israel. They will rest where the grazing is good, and feed in lush pastures on the heights of Israel. I, Myself, will tend My sheep and let them rest, word of YHVH. I will search for the lost and lead back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak; but the fat and strong will be eliminated. I will shepherd My flock with justice.