Tuesday, 5 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us heard the readings from the Sacred Scriptures in which all of us are reminded of the great love and mercy of God, the compassionate and merciful love which He had for each and every one of us that He is willing to forgive us from our sins if we are willing to listen to Him and repent, turning away from those wicked and sinful ways. Unfortunately, more often than not, we are too preoccupied and busy to listen to the Lord’s words and urging in our hearts.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Jonah on the words that Jonah brought on behalf of the Lord to the people of Nineveh, the capital of the great Assyrian Kingdom, which at that time was the Hegemon of that part of the world. Assyria was rising in power and they conquered many other smaller states and cities, committing atrocities and acts of wanton destruction during their conquests as attested by historical records and evidences. They grew rich and mighty over the sufferings and pains of others and this was their great sin.

As such, God sent Jonah to them to warn them of their upcoming destruction and annihilation, and yet, while God desired destruction upon the wicked that is justified because of their sins, the fact that He actually sent His prophet Jonah to proclaim this to them was truly a clear sign how the Lord still loved and cared for His people, even after they had sinned greatly against Him, disobeyed Him and betrayed Him. That is why, one of the reason why He sent Jonah to them was actually to make them to realise the errors of their ways, repent and turn back to righteousness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the truth is that God never intended for any of us to be destroyed or crushed because of our sins. Otherwise, He could have destroyed us right from the beginning when our ancestors first disobeyed and betrayed Him for the temptations of Satan. He created all of us out of His love for each one of us, and it is by His love and enduring attention to us that we all live by His grace. He wants all sinners to return to Him and to find salvation through Him, be freed from the bondage of sin and death.

However, as we have also heard in our Gospel passage today, the main hindrance to this is our own preoccupation in life, as we are often distracted by the many desires, temptations and other things in life, as well as the lies and the falsehoods that the devil has planted in our hearts and minds, which we heeded to instead of the truth and love of God. In our Gospel passage today we heard of the Lord Jesus visiting to the house of Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, who were good friends of the Lord, and while Mary was listening to the Lord and His teachings, Martha was very busy tending to the preparations and possibly cooking.

When Martha scolded Mary and told the Lord that Mary should have helped her in her work and efforts, the Lord lightly rebuked Martha and told her that what Mary had done was right. Martha was not wrong in her desire to serve and provide for the Lord, but in her preoccupation with her chores and work, it distracted her from truly welcoming the Lord and allowing His words of truth and love to enter her heart as her sister Mary had done. She has essentially placed her work and actions above her love for God.

This is why we should not allow all those distractions from keeping us away from God, and we must realise and be grateful that the Lord has been so loving and merciful towards us, all these while. He has given us His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, to be the One Who would deliver us from the destruction due to our sins and evils, and redeemed us by the most loving sacrifice He had made on the Cross, as He offered Himself in atonement for our many and innumerable sins. Here we have ourselves seen God’s most wonderful mercy and love bared to us.

Today, we celebrate the feast of the great saint and mystic who had revealed to us this loving and merciful aspect of the Lord, the Divine Mercy of God, namely St. Faustina Kowalska, the original visionary of the Divine Mercy. St. Faustina Kowalska was a Polish nun who entered the convent at a young age and received for much of her life, visions of the Lord, the Divine Mercy, calling on her to propagate the devotion to the Divine Mercy of God, reminding the people of God about their sins, and how they ought to turn away from their sins and embrace God’s most generous mercy.

St. Faustina Kowalska saw the vision of the Divine Mercy, with rays of red and white light emanating from the Most Sacred Heart of the Lord, which is symbolic of the blood and water that had come out forth from the wound that the centurion lanced to check that the Lord had died on the Cross. By that Most Precious Blood, the Lord had redeemed and brought us to freedom from the tyranny of sin and death, and by His Divinity and Humanity mingled together in the person of Jesus Christ, He has become the Salvation of the whole entire world.

The devotion to the Divine Mercy gradually grew in popularity and now it has become one of the most popular devotions in the world. But what we must truly realise is that we must not leave it as merely a devotion alone, but it must be accompanied with a genuine conversion of the heart and soul, of our entire beings, that we reject sin and evil, Satan and all of his wicked lies and falsehoods that have kept us away from the Lord and His salvation for so long.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all entrust ourselves to the Lord and listen to Him, His calling for us to embrace His love and mercy, much like how the people of Nineveh, wicked as they were, decided to humble themselves before God and all men, abashing themselves for their wickedness and sorrowful over their sins. This is the same attitude that we should have as well, brothers and sisters, and we should turn ourselves towards our Lord, the Divine Mercy, and seek His mercy and forgiveness, that we may be healed, made whole and reconciled once again.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen each and every one of us to live ever more courageously in faith from now on, and walk virtuously in His path from now on. May God bless us always, and may He guide us in our journey of faith through life, with the intercession of the saints, especially St. Faustina Kowalska, our role model in faith. Amen.

Tuesday, 5 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Luke 10 : 38-42

At that time, as Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He entered a village, and a woman called Martha welcomed Him to her house. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet to listen to His words. Martha, meanwhile, was busy with all the serving, and finally she said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the work? Tell her to help me!”

But the Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you worry and are troubled about many things, whereas only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Tuesday, 5 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Psalm 129 : 1-2, 3-4, 7bc-8

Out of the depths I cry to You, o YHVH, o YHVH, hear my voice! Let Your ears pay attention to the voice of my supplication.

If You should mark our evil, o YHVH, who could stand? But with You, is forgiveness, and for that, You are revered.

For with Him, is unfailing love and with Him full deliverance. He will deliver Israel from all its sins.

Tuesday, 5 October 2021 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Holy Virgins)

Jonah 3 : 1-10

The word of YHVH came to Jonah a second time : “Go to Nineveh, the great city, and announce to them the message I give you.”

In obedience to the word of YHVH, Jonah went to Nineveh. It was a very large city, and it took three days just to cross it. So Jonah walked a single day’s journey and began proclaiming, “Forty days more and Nineveh will be destroyed.”

The people of the city believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. Upon hearing the news, the king of Nineveh got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes. He issued a proclamation throughout Nineveh :

“By the decree of the king and his nobles, no people or beasts, herd or flock, will taste anything; neither will they eat nor drink. But let people and beasts be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call aloud to God, turn from his evil ways and violence. Who knows? God may yet relent, turn from His fierce anger and spare us.”

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not carry out the destruction He had threatened upon them.

Monday, 5 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Mary Faustina Kowalska, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard first of all from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Galatia in Asia Minor, addressing them on the matter of the true Gospel and revelations of our Lord. Then, we also heard from our Gospel passage today, the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan, in which a Samaritan helped a Jew who was wounded, while a priest and a Levite passed by without helping.

In our first reading today, we heard of the frustrations shared by St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Galatia regarding how many among them followed the false teachings and different doctrines held by those who turned the true teachings of the faith to suit their own purposes. Even from this very early time in the history of the Church, there had been division and confusion sowed by the devil and all of those opposed to the good works of God, trying to mislead the faithful to the wrong paths.

That was why St. Paul spoke sternly against all those who misinterpreted the Gospels and the Scriptures, the words of God and His truth for their own purposes, and sowed divisions and confusions among the Christian communities. He said that the truth of God is unchanging and also should have been faithfully kept as it was revealed, and anyone who preached otherwise, had committed sin against God and against His people. St. Paul warned the people in such a way to keep themselves guarded against those who would claim that the Lord had spoken to them and reveal to them a new truth that is contrary to what the Lord had revealed through His Church.

This is truly prescient as in time, many people came to claim to have knowledge of a better truth, or used the truth to mislead the people, leading to heresies that divided the Church and caused confusion among the faithful. All these happened long after St. Paul had encountered the same troubles during his missionary efforts and journeys. But despite all of these, because of the efforts and reminders that St. Paul mentioned, the Church had remained faithful to the truth of Christ, and preserved the same truth despite all the heresies and divisions that had occurred in the past two millennia.

And part of this truth is what is espoused in our Gospel passage today, in the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan. In that parable, the Lord used it to highlight His points, especially to the teacher of the Law and others present at the time who were trying to test Him and placed upon Him the question, ‘Who is my neighbour?’ when the Lord reminded them that the Law of God is about loving God with all of one’s heart and also loving one another, our fellow neighbours.

The Lord used the example of a Samaritan, as Samaritans at the time were often reviled and hated by the people in Judea, especially by the religious establishment and the elites of the society. The Samaritans were seen as pagans and foreigners, as wicked people who have strayed away from the teachings and Law of God. The Samaritans themselves were in fact descended from the people who once inhabited the land of Israel, with the people who were brought in by the Assyrians and others to inhabit the land after many of the Israelites of the northern kingdom were brought to exile in Assyria and other lands.

As such, they were deemed as impure, as foreigners, and as those who were unworthy of God. And as a result, they were shunned and tensions often existed between the Samaritans and the Jews, with both of them disagreeing on the matter of worship of God. But as the parable of the Lord showed, it served to dispel the notion that the Samaritans were worse as human beings, and in fact, from the example of the Good Samaritan, it showed that while the priest and Levite, themselves highly respected within the Jewish community, had ignored the plight of the man beset by robbers, the Samaritan stooped down to help, and not only help, but even went the extra mile in helping him.

The victim who was a Jew, was abandoned by his own people, and worse still, by those who were highly respected and deemed within the community as righteous and pious. Instead, it was a Samaritan, often hated and shunned, who was there to help, to reach out to the victim, and cared for him with extra efforts, to make sure that he recovered completely, without regards for his own inconvenience, and also without regards or considerations or worries about helping a Jew, something that both the Jews and Samaritans were then loath doing, as neither side wanted anything to do with the other.

This, brothers and sisters in Christ, is what the Lord wanted to remind us as His truth, the teachings of His love, that He wants us all to embrace and accept, and we should embrace the fact that every one of us are beloved by God, no matter what we are, where we came from, what our background and origin is, or what group we belong to, all of us are equally beloved by God. And we must not look down on others or think that others do not deserve God’s love or not worthy of Him.

The Good Samaritan story is both a story that breaks prejudices and biases, as well as a story that highlights to us the calling as Christians to reach out in love to others, especially those who are suffering and in need of help. We should not be like the priest and the Levite, who just passed by without even offering any help at all, or being concerned with the well-being of the man. As Christians we must always be filled with compassion and love for one another, and even to those who despise us and hate us.

That is why, linking to what we have heard in our first reading today, should anyone or any teachings by some state that we must be discriminatory or act in ways that highlight our differences from our fellow men, especially against those who have not believed in God, or those who have lapsed from their faith, these are not true teachings of Christ. Throughout history, there had been those who deemed themselves as being more righteous and more worthy of God, and looking down on those whom they deemed to be inferior or different from them. And these are those who have followed the wrong path and even are misleading the faithful.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should not entertain these false ideas and attitudes that are not in accordance to God’s ways and teachings. And today, we also celebrate the feast of St. Mary Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who was most remembered for her visions of the Divine Mercy of God, from which stemmed the now very popular Devotion to the Divine Mercy.

St. Faustina Kowalska initially faced a lot of opposition for her visions and writings, and it took many, many decades before her writings and experiences as genuine and integral after extensive and intensive research to make sure that they are in accordance to the Church teachings, and not misleading the faithful as what some other false visionaries and teachers had done.

Now, the Devotion to the Divine Mercy of God became a very important reminder of God’s love and mercy, which He has showed us without prejudice or bias just as the Good Samaritan had done. God is ever patient and merciful, and He is calling on all of us to be more Christ-like in our lives and way of life. We can be inspired by St. Faustina’s faith and perseverance through all of these.

Let us all embrace wholeheartedly God’s calling for us to be faithful in life, to be compassionate towards those who are in need, and especially during these difficult times, these challenging moments, let us all spend time and effort to care for those who are not as fortunate as we are. Let us all dedicate ourselves anew, with a new commitment to love and serve the Lord with ever greater devotion from now on. May God bless us all, in our every good efforts and endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 5 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Mary Faustina Kowalska, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Luke 10 : 25-37

At that time, then a teacher of the Law came and began putting Jesus to the test. And he said, “Master, what shall I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do You understand it?” The man answered, “It is written : You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind. And you shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

Jesus replied, “What a good answer! Do this and you shall live.” The man wanted to justify his question, so he asked, “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus then said, “There was a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him and went off, leaving him half-dead.”

“It happened that a priest was going along that road and saw the man, but passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite saw the man, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan also was going that way; and when he came upon the man, he was moved with compassion. He went over to him, and cleaned his wounds with oil and wine, and wrapped them in bandages. Then he put him on his own mount, and brought him to an inn, where he took care of him.”

“The next day, he had to set off; but he gave two silver coins to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him, and whatever you spend on him, I will repay when I return.'” Jesus then asked, “Which of these three, do you think, made himself neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The teacher of the Law answered, “The one who had mercy on him.” And Jesus said, “Then go and do the same.”

Monday, 5 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Mary Faustina Kowalska, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Psalm 110 : 1-2, 7-8, 9 and 10c

Alleluia! I thank YHVH with all my heart in the council of the just, in the assembly. The works of YHVH are great and pondered by all who delight in them.

The works of His hands are faithful and just, trustworthy are all His precepts, ordained to last forever, bearers of truth and uprightness.

He has sent His people deliverance and made with them a Covenant forever. His holy Name is to be revered! To Him belongs everlasting praise.

Monday, 5 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Mary Faustina Kowalska, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Galatians 1 : 6-12

I am surprised at how quickly you have abandoned God, Who called you, according to the grace of Christ, and have gone to another gospel. Indeed, there is no other Gospel, but some people, who are sowing confusion among you, want to turn the Gospel of Christ upside down.

But even if we, ourselves, were giving you another gospel, different from the one we preached to you, or if it were an Angel from heaven, I would say : let God’s curse be on him! As I have said, I now say again : if anyone preaches the Gospel in a way other than you received it, fire that one! Are we to please humans or obey God? Do you think that I try to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, that the Gospel we preached to you is not a human message, nor did I receive it from anyone, I was not taught of it; but it came to me, as a revelation from Christ Jesus.

Sunday, 12 October 2014 : 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the readings of this Sunday refers very, very clearly to the loving nature of our Lord, God and Father, who created all of us at the beginning of time, to be the most beloved of all His creations. He is truly like a father to us all, giving us life and all that we need, and He paved the path for us in our lives, guiding us in all the things that we do, that even though we often do not realise what He had done, but He is indeed there, watching over us and leading us towards Himself.

God who loves us has prepared all goodness for us, and He has blessed us with great riches, all the inheritance which are promised to us. This is shown by Jesus, when He told the people and His disciples, of the parable of the king and the banquet, where He told them of a king who prepared a great feast and invited many people to come to His banquet.

The banquet represented the promise of good life and eternal joy with God, and just as the king intended to celebrate and be merry with all those who had been invited to the feast, God intended for all of us, His beloved creations, to enjoy the fullness of happiness with Him. That was exactly also what He intended for us at the beginning. But like the guests who refused to come and listen to the king, our ancestors beginning from Adam also refused to listen to God and His will.

The guests might have a variety of reasons for not coming to the banquet prepared for them, and we may not know them, since it was never mentioned by Jesus. But certainly, by observing our own human behaviours and reactions, surely we are able to easily predict them. The guests might have had other businesses and commitments to handle, but then we can ask, has the king not given them the notice for the banquet in advance? And what is so important that they should skip the banquet of the king for something else?

Thus the same often happens to us, as we live our lives in this world. How often is it that when God calls us and guides us to His ways, that we said no to them and quickly go about worrying about our own selves? How often is it that we prefer to follow our own hearts’ desires and wants, rather than to listen to God and follow His will for us? We often complained that God interferes in our lives on one hand, saying that we prefer to do things on our own, but on the other hand, when we are in trouble, we are also quick to blame God for not helping us when we are in need.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, men are not easy to satisfy, and our hearts continue to lead us to listen to our own desires and wants. It is within our human nature to succumb to the temptations of our flesh, and as a result, like the guests, we tend to regard our own concerns as priority, thinking about ourselves first and how to please ourselves first before that of others.

And the other possible ‘reason’ for their disobedience is indeed their laziness and sloth, preferring to remain idle in the comfort of their houses rather than to travel to the king’s palace to attend the banquet. And this we can indeed relate to ourselves, on how we tend to be slothful in this life, refusing the apparently more difficult path which the Lord offered us, and prefer the ‘easy’ and happy life which this world apparently gives.

Thus I would also like to share with you what St. Faustina Kowalska, the one who introduced the devotion to the Divine Mercy, had seen in one of her visions. She saw two paths and men who walked along these two paths. One path is a path that is filled with flowers and wonderful things, wide and pleasant to walk on, while the other path is a path filled with thorns, obstacles, and both narrow and difficult to walk on.

But then, she saw that the easy and pleasant path hide a terrible secret, that at the end, the many people who walked on that path, fell into an endless chasm that suddenly arose on the path of the road, and many were unaware of the chasm, and fell into the chasm as they walked. Meanwhile, on the narrow and difficult road, much fewer people travelled through it, but even as those who persevered on continued, when they reached the end, they found a very beautiful garden filled with goodness, where they lived on ever after.

Thus, the vision presented us yet again, that the Lord offers us goodness and the promise of eternal happiness in Him, and He will not renege on the promise which He had made and renewed over the many generations again and again. It is our choice whether we follow Him and trust in Him, or instead trust in Satan who ought not to be trusted. He leads us into damnation with him, but he is very clever indeed, and as we know in how he tried to tempt even Jesus, he offered all the goodness which he can offer us, be it food, power, wealth or glory, or other things that fulfill and satisfy our desires.

Thus we must be vigilant, and we cannot let go our our guard against the possible assaults by Satan, who awaits at every corner hoping to deceive us and lead us into harm. And that was why Jesus continued His story, by saying that after the king in his anger had destroyed all those who had disobeyed and spurned his invitation, he invited many others who were brought to his banquet instead of the first invited.

This is to highlight first the fate that all those who refused to listen to God, and prefer to follow their own paths and desires is death and destruction, just as those who walked the easy path fell into the chasm of infinite suffering in the vision of St. Faustina Kowalska. The path which the Lord offers may not seem easy, and indeed that obstacles will be plenty, but if we remain faithful to the end, we will be richly rewarded.

And then, when Jesus mentioned about the man who came to the banquet not wearing the proper banquet garment, He was in fact referring to how we lead our faith life. In being faithful to the Lord, we cannot be half-hearted, and in our effort to seek the Lord our God we cannot be divided between Him and something else. Thus, when we come to the banquet of the Lord, we too cannot be divided in our hearts, our minds and our souls.

What is this banquet of the Lord which God had prepared for all of us? That is none other than the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, where we celebrate in unity with the singular act of God’s greatest act of love for us all, that is His sacrifice, suffering and death on the cross, where He bared Himself to all those whom He loved, offering Himself as the perfect offering for the reparation and the redemption of all of us from our sins.

And just as the king prepared lavish food and drinks in the banquet, so thus the Lord also gave the best of all food and drink to all of us, who comes to His banquet, that is His own Precious Body and Precious Blood. Remember when Jesus said that those who eat of His Body and drink of His Blood will not die but live eternally with God? And that is the case indeed. If we are to come to attend the banquet, that is the Holy Mass, should we not then be properly ‘attired’?

This attire does not mean just that we should be properly attired with proper clothing and wear when we come for the Mass. Certainly we do not come to the banquet of the Lord wearing clothes as if we are about to go for a picnic or a leisure walk. Instead we should wear our very best and look our very best to honour the Lord our God. However, if this is as far as we go, then it is not enough.

How many of us attend the Holy Mass and yet our minds are not in the Mass at all? How many of us prefer to talk among ourselves and with our friends, and also to pay attention to our phones and other communication devices, contacting persons even outside the Holy Mass, and not to focus our heart, mind and soul to the Lord, who should be at the centre of the celebration? Ought the king not be given his proper place in his own banquet? And thus, should we not indeed give the Lord the proper adoration and respect He deserve in the Mass?

Think about these, brothers and sisters in Christ. There are two key messages which our Lord Jesus Christ and His revelations through the Scriptures want to tell us all today. First is that, we have a choice, either to follow the easier way out, that is to follow what we want and disregard the Lord, or to follow Him, and walk in His ways, even though that path might indeed be difficult and challenging. But the reward is clear, while the first path leads to destruction in the end, the path of the Lord never disappoints.

And then second, that if we choose to follow the Lord, He who loves us so much that He gave us everything, and held back not even His own Son, to bear our sins and die for our sake, that we may have life in Him, we cannot be half-hearted or be divided in our hearts, in our souls, and in our minds’ desires to follow Him. We cannot serve both God and our own heart’s desire, that is the temptations of the flesh.

And thus, as I have mentioned, we have to give it all, at the banquet of the Lord where He had given His own Body and Blood to us, in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, that we have to be fully prepared and properly attired in our body, in our mind, in our soul, and in our hearts. Our focus should be completely on the Lord. Look at Him who is in the Eucharist, and focus our entire being to Him! If we do so, then He, who is the King of all, will approve of us and our actions, and justify us in our faith.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we go on with our lives from today onwards, let us all dedicate ourselves anew and renew our commitment to the Lord. Let us from now on attend and fully participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, giving our Lord all of our love and devotion, just as He had loved us first to the fullness of His heart, that He even gave us His life.

May Almighty God be with us all, and may He guide us to Himself, that amidst all the difficulties and challenges which we may and will indeed encounter, we may remain faithful, and with our gaze fixed at Him, may we gain the promise of eternal life, which God gives freely to all who are true to Him in faith and love. Amen.

Sunday, 27 April 2014 : 2nd Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, Canonisation of Pope St. John XXIII and Pope St. John Paul II (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is the Second Sunday of Easter, or since a few years ago, we also celebrate the greatness of our Lord’s merciful heart and love for us, in the Feast of the Divine Mercy. We celebrate today not just the joy of Easter and the resurrection of Christ, but the very love and mercy that God had shown us in giving us Jesus to be our Saviour and redeem us from certain death because of sin.

Today we have to reflect on this great mercy God had shown us through Jesus. Without this mercy, mankind would still dwell in darkness of this world and engulfed in sin, and therefore, condemned to damnation with Satan and his fellow fallen angels in the eternal torture of hell, bereft of God’s love and mercy in its entirety, where there is no longer any hope for us.

Instead, God who loves us resolved to let Himself be humiliated, scourged, tortured and mocked for our sake. He let Himself to be wounded and punished with the entirety of the weight of our sins, no matter how heavy they are. For our sins are the wounds that He bear, and His cross is our rebelliousness that He bore for our sake, that we may not suffer the consequences of our sins.

Today we celebrate the rising of two great and yet humble men to the Altar, that is our beloved Popes, the Successors of St. Peter, Blesseds Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. The now Saints Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II were great workers of love and mercy, proclaiming to the world the virtues of the Most Divine Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Pope St. John XXIII was the great proponent and champion of peace, seeking peace in a world beset by conflicts and hatred between one another, building bridges of dialogue and reconciliation where there were anger, hatred and violence. This is one of the great aspect and essence of mercy, showing to the world that we mankind should shun evil and hatred, as well as violence and dispute, in favour of love, forgiveness, cooperation and genuine mercy.

Divine Mercy of our Lord was truly at work, when Pope St. John XXIII carried out his mission as the Successor of St. Peter as the head of the Universal Church. Even in his life prior to his election as Pope, Pope St. John XXIII had been the embodiment of our Lord’s Divine Mercy, by acting in accordance to the Lord’s love, reaching out in particular to those who are bereft and longing for the Lord’s beautiful mercy.

Pope St. John XXIII as Angelo Roncalli prior to his election as Pope was sent as the diplomat of the Holy See, representing the Pope and the Church in various countries where strife was rampant, and divisions were evident among the faithful people of God, as the Apostolic Delegate to Bulgaria, he helped to bridge the differences between the faithful belonging to the Church and our separated brethren of the Constantinopolitan communion or the Eastern Orthodox. He helped foster a good relationship among the faithful and did not fear to help out a fellow brethren in need.

In essence, therefore, he had exercised the merciful aspect of the Lord who is the Divine Mercy. Pope St. John XXIII has also emulated the same example of Christ’s mercy by helping the Jews who were hunted down by the NAZIs to be exterminated by working hard to arrange their escape when he was the Apostolic Delegate to Turkey, and when a trainload of Jewish exiles attempted to escape death through Turkey.

There were much mercy in this new saint’s actions, and that is why he is today elevated to the glory of the Altar and officially recognised by the Church as a saint worthy of heavenly glory and honour. The other saint elevated today, Pope St. John Paul II whom many if us dearly and fondly remembered as the Pope of our time, also was a great man of mercy and love.

Pope St. John Paul II and his predecessors worked on the vision of a religious sister, who is known now as St. Faustina Kowalska on the Lord as the Divine Mercy. The Lord appeared to St. Faustina Kowalska asking for mankind to repent and change their sinful ways, and cling to His most merciful heart, which became the origin for the devotion towards the Divine Mercy of God, and the origin for today’s celebration on the Feast of the Divine Mercy, which falls on the second Sunday of Easter.

Pope St. John Paul II himself, as many of us know, is a man of great mercy, whose works of love and perseverance for the sake of the faithful is well known throughout the world. When he met an assassination attempt in 1981, on the day of the Feast of our Lady of Fatima, he forgave his to-be-assassin, and visited him in the prison, reconciling himself with the assassin in love.

This is one of the many examples of his acts of mercy, which is firmly founded on the foundations of faith, and his perseverance in fighting for the rights of the faithful against the Communist regime in Poland, his country, was truly remarkable. He did not fight the violence of the atheistic government with violence of his own, even when the people were on his side. He fought for the people with prayers and activism, promoting and championing for the faith through real action firmly grounded on the Christian faith.

Pope St. John Paul II was also well known for his championing of the Universal Call to Holiness, in which the faithful and people of God are encouraged to be models of the faith and walk in a life of holiness, which he helped encourage by the elevation of many holy men and women whose lives had been exemplary to be the role model for the faithful, that is for all of us to follow. These are the examples of the manifestation of the Lord’s love and mercy which came true in the lives of these holy men and women, including that of Popes St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II themselves.

In celebrating the elevation of these two great and yet humble Popes to the holy sainthood, we celebrate together with the entire Church for the propagation of the Lord’s Divine Mercy and love to all the peoples of all the nations, that from today on, through the examples in the lives of these two new saints and countless other holy men and women of God, we may learn of the Lord’s Divine Mercy and understand this great act of mercy.

God did not want us to suffer for the consequences of our sins, which entered our hearts and bodies and minds ever since Adam and Eve our first ancestors disobeyed the Lord and His will. That is why He sent us the greatest gift and help that He can provide us, in Jesus His Son, who suffered in our place, bearing our sins and all their burdens on His shoulders to the cross, where He laid down His own life for us, and by rising from the dead, He gave new hope of a new life to all of us who believe and who are ready to cast away our old lives of sin.

Yet we also have to remember at all times that God hates sin, in all its forms, no matter whether it is a small or a large sin. A sin is still a sin, and it separates us from being able to be perfectly reunited with the Lord who loves us. Sin is the barrier that prevents mankind from being free from the bonds and chains of death, and therefore, it is imperative for us to take the initiative to get rid of our sinfulness.

And the Lord who is also the Divine Mercy as He had revealed to St. Faustina Kowalska, has offered much mercy and opportunity for all of us to repent and turn again towards Him from our past sinful lives. It does not mean that God hates sin then we who have sinned will be condemned to perdition and death. It does not mean that we will be cast into hell immediately for our sins. Mankind are often very aware of their sins, but the danger of this is that because of this awareness, mankind became fearful of God and were afraid to seek God’s forgiveness and therefore fall deeper into sin.

We must not have this mentality or attitude towards God, because we know that the Lord is rich in mercy and slow to anger. Yes, just as much as He is wrathful and hateful against sins that we commit. What matters is for us to open our hearts to Him and allow His mercy to work wonders in us, and allowing His mercy to pierce to the greatest depths of our hearts that He may dwell in us and work His forgiveness in us.

Remember what Pope St. John Paul II had said to us? That we must not be afraid and open the doors wide to the Lord? And yes, therefore, we have to heed the words of this wise saint, and open wide the doors of our hearts to the forgiveness and mercy of God. Do not be afraid indeed, or else God’s mercy and forgiveness will not work its wonders on us, and we will remain in sin.

The problem with many of us and therefore mankind in general is that, not only that we fear the Lord and His wrath, but we also have great pride in us that we do not want to seek the Lord for forgiveness because of our ego. We keep our ego and heads held high, but for what? In the end, keeping our ego and pride will cost us dearly and we may be thrown into hell to suffer for eternity just because we refuse to lower ourselves before the mercy of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore today, as we rejoice with the entire Universal Church for the elevation of the two new saints from among our Popes, let us follow their examples and heed their words, that we show mercy in our own actions and open our hearts to the Lord, that His mercy and love may be poured into us, and make us all truly worthy and holy children of His, showing the examples of mercy in all our words, actions and deeds.

O, Pope St. John XXIII, pray and intercede for us that we may be agents of peace in this world, to show love and mercy of God to all through our actions, that may all hatred and violence cease, and that men will be brought closer to God, just as you had once worked hard for the sake of peace and equality for all mankind before God.

O, Pope St. John Paul II, pray and intercede for us that we may have our hearts opened for the Lord to enter, that we will not shut tight our doors before the Lord who knocks daily at them. Pray for us that we will not be afraid to open ourselves for others and show love and mercy in all of our actions, that we will be witnesses of the Lord’s most Divine Mercy.

May the Lord show His infinite mercy to us on this day, that we who have sinned before Him may turn our back against our past and sinful lives, that we may take concrete and real steps towards full reconciliation with our God. O, most Divine Mercy and loving Jesus, forgive us sinners and bring us closer to Your most loving heart. Amen.