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.

Friday, 8 June 2018 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the great occasion of the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. On this day, we focus on the most loving Heart of Our Lord, Who has given everything for our sake, the Lord Jesus, Who even did not hold back from suffering for our sake, and dying on the cross for our salvation.

This Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus had its roots from the long-established and traditional devotion to the Sacred Heart, which began hundreds of years ago, as popular devotion to the love which God had shown us, and which the Lord showed His servant, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, in a vision of His Most Sacred Heart, crowned with thorns and pierced, with a burning flame above the Heart, as a sign of His ever-burning and living love for each and every one of us.

This devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is one of the oldest existing devotions in the Church, and one that all of us should be appreciative about, as it brings us to remember about the great love which God has shown to us, in His generous and rich mercy. The Church has decided to celebrate this Solemnity with great devotion, in order to benefit all of us on the way to our salvation in God.

First of all, we have to realise just how great the love which God has for each and every one of us, from the holiest of persons to the greatest among the sinners. To everyone, to all the children of men, God has shown His love, as personified in none other than the Lord Jesus Himself, the Love of God made Man, as St. John wrote in his Gospel, that God so loved the world, that He sent to the world and to us, His own Beloved Son.

And just as we often represent love with a heart, as the heart, is the source of our life, through the beating heart that is a sign of life, and also of emotions, because our heartbeat increases when we are feeling happy, intense, or in love, then, God’s love is represented in the same way, as the loving Heart of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. This is how the devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus gained its place in our faith.

And symbolically, as we heard in our Gospel passage today, we heard about another important event involving the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord. It was during His crucifixion, right after He gave up His Spirit and died. As the chief priests and elders did not want the bodies to remain on the cross throughout the Sabbath, the Roman soldiers were instructed by their superior to ensure that the thieves and the Lord Jesus were dead.

Hence, they broke the bones of the legs of the thieves, an act which through our scientific research discovered that this could cause immediate death or very quick death to those criminals who has been left to hang on the crosses for hours. But at that time, the Lord Jesus was already dead, and many of the people who were there, including the soldiers witnessed His passing.

Nonetheless, in order to ensure that the Lord Jesus was truly dead, the Roman soldier, which by tradition was known as St. Longinus, pierced the side of the Lord with his lance, and immediately came pouring out blood and water from the Lord’s side. One would wonder why the Roman soldier pierced the side of the Lord to ensure that He was dead, if the heart is not even located at that part of the body.

That is because a Roman soldier like St. Longinus was very well-trained in numerous arts of warfare, and he must have been well-trained to hit the critical parts of the body, including the heart, from various places including from a person’s side. And when a person died, it has been determined by experience that if a person’s heart is pierced, there would be water accumulating in the spaces surrounding the heart, and hence, water and blood will come pouring out.

But the symbolism of the blood and water that came out from the side of the Lord Jesus was much greater than all of that. At every time the Holy Mass is celebrated, the priest mixes the wine with a little bit of water into the sacred chalice, and the material for the Precious Blood of the Lord was prepared. Both water and wine must be present, so as to make the whole process and Sacrament to be valid.

This is because the wine, usually red wine, with the colour of blood represents the Divinity of Christ, while the water represents His humanity, which are mingled together yet separate, distinct yet united, at the moment when the Lord offered Himself as the perfect Sacrifice on the Altar of the cross at Calvary, offering Himself as the perfect oblation for all of our sins.

The blood and water, symbolically represented by the wine and the water at the Mass, therefore shows us the salvation of God, brought forth by the giving of His life, the outpouring of His Body and Blood, given to us and shared with us, that all of us who partake in His Body and Blood, will have eternal life and share in the joy and glory of God forevermore.

That is just how much the Lord has loved us, and therefore, we ought to love Him just in the same manner. And that is why we devote ourselves to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, because ultimately, we believe that despite our shortcomings and sins, God has shown us His love, and He is willing to forgive us, provided that we are also willing to repent from our sins and turn wholeheartedly towards Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us therefore deepen our devotion to the Lord, especially today, in His Most Sacred Heart. Let us draw ever closer to Him, and be filled with resolve to love God with a renewed vigour and faith. And let us also show the same love to our fellow men, as He has taught us to do. May the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord continue to pour His love upon us, and give us His generous mercy as always. Amen.

Friday, 8 June 2018 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 19 : 31-37

At that time, as it was Preparation Day, the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the cross during the Sabbath, for this Sabbath was a very solemn day. They asked Pilate to have the legs of the condemned men broken, so that the bodies might be taken away.

The soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man and of the other man, who had been crucified with Jesus. When they came to Jesus, they saw that He was already dead, so they did not break His legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced His side with a lance, and immediately there came out blood and water.

The one who saw that, has testified to it, and his testimony is true; he knows he speaks the truth, so that you also might believe. All this happened to fulfil the words of Scripture : Not one of His bones shall be broken. Another text says : They shall look on Him Whom they have pierced.