Sunday, 6 December 2015 : Second Sunday of Advent, Memorial of St. Nicholas, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Baruch 5 : 1-9

Jerusalem, put off your garment of mourning and unhappiness, put on the splendour and glory of God forever. Wrap yourself in the mantle of holiness that comes from God, put on your head the crown of glory of the Eternal One.

For God will show your splendour to every being under Heaven. He will call your name forever, “Peace in Justice” and “Glory in the Fear of the Lord.” Rise up, Jerusalem, stand on the heights. Look towards the East and see your children gathered together from the setting of the sun to its rising, by the voice of the Holy One, rejoicing because God has remembered them.

They left you on foot, taken away by the enemy. God will lead them back, carried gloriously like royal princes. For God has resolved to bring low every high mountain and the everlasting hills, to fill up the valleys and level out the ground, in order that Israel may walk in safety under the Glory of God.

Even the forests and the fragrant trees will give shade to Israel at God’s command. For God will lead Israel with joy by the light of His Glory, escorting them with His mercy and justice.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014 : Third Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple or Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about obedience to the will of God and obedience to what He had taught us to do. He pointed out those who pretended to listen and obey, but in the end, never actually obeyed what the Lord had taught them to do, and then compared these to those who did not seem to listen but eventually obeyed and listened to God and do His will.

What Jesus had done in the Gospel today was to establish the common perceptions and prejudices of the time, and the divisions that exist between the Jews, the people of Israel, who regarded themselves as a chosen race and a chosen people, having descended directly from Abraham and Jacob, and who had been brought out of Egypt by the power of God Himself, and who received the Promised Land, the sign of God’s faithfulness to His promise to Abraham, and the people who are non-Jews and generally called the Gentiles.

The Gentiles were all the people who lived around and with the Jews at the time, consisting of the Samaritans, Nabateans, Egyptians, the Arabs, the Phoenicians, the Greeks and the Romans, and many other nations, including all those whom we heard to be at Jerusalem during the Pentecost. They were looked down by the Jews, since they thought that these people, being not part of the ‘chosen race’, they were not worthy of salvation, as they were pagans and not believing in God, their One and only God.

Yet, what Jesus sought to challenge was this perception, which was really false and misleading. What He mentioned as the son who listened and heard the word of the father, but never actually obeyed and did the work asked of him, referred to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law and many of those who held the view and attitude that they were above others because they were part of the chosen ones, and thus according to them, deserved salvation while others did not.

The son who did not listen but eventually did the work as his father had commanded him, represented the Gentiles and all the people whom the Jews considered as pagans including the prostitutes and tax collectors from among themselves, and whom they condemned as damned. Yet, it is among these people that the words of Jesus and the teachings of the Faith found strong roots, and the people who heard them truly listened, changed their ways and found redemption in Christ. They were the son who did not listen, precisely because they did not have the opportunity to listen to the word of God before the coming of the Christ in Jesus.

There were also some among the Jews who believed in Jesus and in His teachings, but many especially the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were ardently against Him and attempted to even undermine His efforts and good works among the people. This is truly the son who had the opportunity to listen to the word and commands of the father but refused to do the work according to what he had been told.

The people of Israel had had so many opportunities that God had given to them, by the sending of the numerous prophets and messengers of God’s will to them, who spoke to them and urged them to repent from their sins, and yet they refused to listen. Remember the parable of the tenants of the vineyard? In that parable, the tenants refused to pay the proceeds agreed between them and the owner, and they persecuted and even murdered the servants sent to remind them.

And in the parable, when the owner sent his own son to remind the tenants, they murdered him as well. This is the same as how the Pharisees and the elders rejected Jesus and loathed what He taught them. Indeed, they preferred to remain in their sinful pride and greed rather than to accept the grace and forgiveness of God. And God who will judge all according to their deeds, will hold them accountable for all of their sinful deeds.

What is the lesson for us today, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is that we should never allow our pride and greed to blind us to the love and truth of Christ. We have to submit ourselves humbly to the will of God and commit ourselves to do His will dutifully, just as the latter son had done. We cannot be prejudiced just simply because we have faith in God and thus think that we are then safe from all harm. Yes, faith alone is not enough as faith without good works is dead.

We have to show our faith in our actions and in all of our deeds, so that all who sees us will then know that we truly belong to the Lord. Jesus had commissioned His Apostles and disciples to go and spread the Good News to all of the world and to baptise all peoples of all the nations in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But how are we to persuade others to believe if we ourselves do not practice what we believe in?

Let this Advent be a time of prayer, reflection and sincere preparation of ourselves, of our body, heart and mind so that we may truly live out our lives in faith and that we all may become good examples and role models of the faith, so as to bring many more souls to salvation. Do not become disobedient like the former son who listened but never did what his father wanted, but instead be obedient and be faithful to God, our loving Father, who will reward us for our living faith. God bless us all. Amen.


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Sunday, 7 December 2014 : Second Sunday of Advent, Memorial of St. Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple or Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we continue through the second Sunday of the Advent season, and we go deeper into the preparation we are carrying out this Advent, to prepare ourselves for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today’s readings serve as a further reminder of the eventual coming of our Lord in triumph, just as He had once come into the world as one of us, as Jesus Christ the Son of Man.

Today’s readings spoke about the servant and messenger of God’s will, John the Baptist, the one who was sent by God ahead of Himself, to prepare the way for His coming and to prepare the people so that when He Himself came, they would be ready and more prepared to listen to His message and be called to salvation. This in itself, also carries the same meaning of ‘preparation’ which Advent is truly about, the preparation for the coming of Christ.

We can see that the Lord had planned everything well in advance, and indeed, the coming of John the Baptist had been prophesied long earlier by the prophet Isaiah and the other prophets, who spoke of him as the second coming of the prophet Elijah into this world, and as God’s messenger to open up His path. Indeed, John the Baptist had been prepared for this mission from the very beginning, just as his conception and birth was special.

The prophet Elijah, if we read the Old Testament in the Book of Kings, was the faithful servant of God and prophet, who strived to bring the people of God who had erred in their ways and rebelled against the Lord, to return to the way of the Lord and be reconciled to Him. The authorities, the kings of Israel and their servants often made his works difficult, and it was often that he was hounded and pursued for his faith to God.

Yet, the prophet Elijah never gave up nor did he abandon his calling. He ministered faithfully to the people of God, and he endured all the difficulties, calling on the people of God to repent and change their ways, and many responded to his call, although equally many of them rejected his call and continued in their sinful ways. He was then, at the end of his mission, brought up to heaven on flaming chariots, and was hidden from the view of men ever since, until his coming again into the world as John.

John was born with the spirit of Elijah on him, and thus he was prepared to continue the same ministry which God had entrusted to Elijah. Even many centuries after the first coming of Elijah, and after the terrible experiences of the Babylonian exile, the people of God was still filled with sin, and they were still following the wicked ways of their ancestors. Thus, what Elijah had once done to bring the people of God back, needed to be done again.

The Lord had, for a long time, promised his people that He will come to save them and bring them back to Himself. He had promised His salvation through the Messiah that He would send into the world. But in a world still filled with so much sin and wickedness, especially even among the people of God, the people of Israel and Judea, the coming of the Messiah would have been made much more difficult if it had not been well prepared beforehand.

Thus, God sent his servant John, the second coming of Elijah, into the world so that he might straighten the path for the Messiah, or the Christ when He came. And that was what St. John the Baptist did, he laboured in thankless works, reviled and rejected by the Pharisees, who criticised him and questioned and doubted the authority and authenticity of his actions.

Yes, just as the people and the kings of Israel rejected Elijah and persisted in their sins, the same too occurred to John the Baptist. The Pharisees and the elders refused to see their sinfulness and refused to repent, thus later on they would prove to be great enemies and stumbling blocks for our Lord as well. Nevertheless, many people responded to John’s call, giving themselves to be baptised in the Jordan and repented from their sins.

Today, we also celebrate the feast of a saint, whose life and ministry would closely resemble what St. John the Baptist had gone through. St. Ambrosius or St. Ambrose, known better as St. Ambrose of Milan, through his position as the Bishop of Milan, was a great saint, a great pillar of the Church, a holy servant of God, one of the original Doctors of the Church, and ultimately, a fierce and fearless defender of the true Faith.

St. Ambrose was born during the late era of the Roman Empire, and he lived during a time when the Faith had been accepted as part of the Empire, and was being followed by more and more of the people of the Empire. However, many of the faithful at that time were misled by the numerous heresies and perversions of the Faith, leading them into wicked sins, which St. Ambrose would help to counter.

Despite being known as the Bishop of Milan, one of the most influential posts at the time in the Church, St. Ambrose was not originally meant for a life in the episcopate or even priesthood. St. Ambrose was a very influential and intelligent person, and his great intellect helped him to master many learnings and he was soon appointed as the Imperial Governor of the region of Aemilia-Liguria, and he was a very popular governor, as he was truly very competent and dedicated.

There was a great division in the Church at Milan at the time, the capital of Ambrose’s governorate, and after the bishop of Milan at the time, who was one of the heretics, died, the succession was filled with great bitterness and feud. St. Ambrose went to the church where the election was held, to prevent fighting and chaos from breaking out.

There, he was acclaimed by all present to be the new Bishop of Milan, regarding to his piety and popularity among the people, his righteousness and upright nature. He was immediately then ordained as a priest and the episcopate. Immediately, as the Bishop, he forbade all the teachings of heresies in his domains, and he strived hard to spread the true teachings of the Faith to the people entrusted under his care.

St. Ambrose did not have it easy, as there were many oppositions and challenges which he had to endure and counter against throughout his ministry. In particular, the Dowager Empress and the young Emperor under her care were heretics and influenced by the teachings of heresy. St. Ambrose tried hard to bring them and many others to see the Light of the true Faith, and many repented, but not the Empress and many others.

St. Ambrose publicly denounced even the Emperor, the Dowager Empress and the other heretical accomplices they had. This indeed reminds us of what St. John the Baptist had done, brothers and sisters? He who opposed and denounced the Pharisees publicly as brood of vipers and evil. And also Elijah, who condemned kings who caused the people to turn against the Lord their God.

And St. Ambrose did not even fear to excommunicate a powerful and mighty Emperor of the mightiest Empire in the world. The famous Roman Emperor Theodosius the Great, who vanquished his enemies and gained supreme power over the whole of the Empire, even though he was pious and true to the orthodox faith, but he was implicated in his part in the great massacre of the civilians and innocents in the great city of Thessalonica.

St. Ambrose excommunicated the Emperor and condemned him greatly in public for his involvement in the massacre. Only after the Emperor repented and in great humility, taking off his Imperial garments, wearing sackcloth and making public confession for his sins and reaffirmation of his faith in God, then St. Ambrose forgave his sins, and welcomed him back into the Church of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what are the significance of what I have shared with you, on this Sunday’s readings, on the lives of Elijah, St. John the Baptist and St. Ambrose of Milan? All of them are about that all of us ought to make ample and sufficient preparation to prepare for the coming of our Lord. We cannot be complacent and unprepared, for remember, in the second reading today, St. Peter in his letter reminded us yet again, that the coming of the Lord will be like a flash, fast and unpredictable. If we do not prepare thoroughly, then we will be caught unaware and unprepared, and grim is our fate if that is the case.

How do we then prepare ourselves? We have to follow the examples of the holy and devoted servants of God, which we have already just heard. We have to stand up for our faith and truly practice it in our own lives. And then, we should not be afraid to point out the truth of Christ to others. After all, through our baptism, we have been called to be the witnesses of the Lord in this world, and as witnesses, it is only fitting that all of us do our part to evangelise the Good News, through our actions, so that all who see us may know the Lord through us and come to believe in Him.

It is important that all of us are prepared thoroughly for the coming of Christ, and thus it is also fitting that we should help one another in our preparations. We mist safeguard each other and keep one another in the faith in Christ, and in order to do so, we too should be prepared ourselves. Therefore, learn about the Faith we have in God, strengthen our devotion for the Lord and read always the Holy Scriptures with understanding.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, may this Advent be a great opportunity for us to renew ourselves, in our commitment to serve the Lord, and in our commitment to live our faith faithfully and genuinely, with love both for Him and for our fellow men. Let us follow the examples of the prophet Elijah, St. John the Baptist and St. Ambrose of Milan in their great courage to be witnesses of the faith. We too can be like them, and it is important that when the Lord comes again, as He had promised, He finds us ready, prepared, alert and awake!

May all of us become like the holy servants of God, and preparing the way for our Lord, just as those holy servants had done in the past. Let us bring the Good News of God and become witnesses of His to all the world by our actions, filled with faith and love, so that we may bring more souls to salvation, and make ready this world for the future coming of our Lord in glory, and He will reward us on the last day. God bless us all. Amen.


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Wednesday, 29 October 2014 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 144 : 10-11, 12-13ab, 13cd-14

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o Lord, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom and speak of Your power.

That all may know of Your mighty deeds, Your reign and its glorious splendour. Your reign is from age to age; Your dominion endures from generation to generation.

The Lord is true to His promises and lets His mercy show in all He does. The Lord lifts up those who are falling and raises those who are beaten down.


Homily and Reflection :

Thursday, 28 August 2014 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine of Hippo, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 144 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

I will praise God day after day and exalt Your Name forever. Great is the Lord, most worthy of praise; and His deeds are beyond measure.

Parents commend Your works to their children and tell them Your feats. They proclaim the splendour of Your majesty and recall Your wondrous works.

People will proclaim Your mighty deeds, and I will declare Your greatness. They will celebrate Your abundant kindness, and rejoice in singing of Your justice.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 20 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

The king rejoices in Your strength, o Lord, and exults in Your saving help. You have granted him his desire; You have not rejected his request.

You have come to him with rich blessings; You have placed a golden crown upon his head. When he asked, You gave him life – length of days forever and ever.

He glories in the victory You gave him; You shall bestow on him splendour and majesty. You have given him eternal blessings, and gladdened him with the joy of Your presence.