Sunday, 20 August 2017 : Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we listened to the words of the Sacred Scriptures speaking to us a very important message which all of us should heed, that we as Christians will be better able to appreciate our faith and understand it. It is about God calling all of His people to His salvation, to receive the mercy, forgiveness and love from His own hands, through their repentance and coming to Him.

This is the theme of this Sunday’s Scripture passages, that God as the Lord of all the nations and all the peoples are calling us to follow Him, that no matter what race belong to, what background or nationality we have, and no matter whether we are rich or poor, powerful or weak, famous or unknown, all these do not matter at all before the Lord. What matters is that, all of us mankind are considered by God to be His children, His beloved ones, and He wants us all to be reconciled to Him.

In the Gospel passage today, we heard of the interaction between the Lord Jesus and a Canaanite woman, or a Syro-Phoenician woman, as that woman came not from the land of Judea, where the Jewish people live, and neither did she belong to the nation of the Jews, not counted among the direct descendants of Jacob or Israel. And as the woman begged the Lord Jesus to heal her daughter who had been tormented by a demon, it must have seemed very strange indeed that the Lord Jesus would refuse her request.

And even more so, He also seemingly denigrated her and mocked her by saying the words such as, ‘It is not right to take the bread from the children, and throw it to the puppies, or dogs.’ Did Jesus just compare the woman to a mere animal as opposed to a human being? Were we right in what we have just listened to? Was there a mistake in the writing of the Scriptures and the Gospels?

No, brothers and sisters in Christ, this is not the case. In fact, this is where we should take note of the real intention of the Lord as He said those words to the Canaanite woman, in front of His disciples and the people. As the Lord Who knows everything in the minds and in the hearts of His people, Jesus clearly know what it is that the woman believed in, and how she would respond to His words. And Jesus wanted to show His disciples and the people, how foolish it is for them to believe in what they were believing in at that time.

For you see, that the Jewish people at that time believed that they were the ones whom God had chosen just as their ancestors have been God’s chosen people, from the time of Abraham to his descendants, and then to the time of the Exodus from Egypt and finally to the time of the kingdom of Israel and Judah. They were the descendants of the Israelites and the people of Judah, and therefore, they were very proud of their heritage and history.

However, over time they ended up becoming proud and egoistic about their special privileges and status, and they looked down on the other peoples, those pagan peoples living around them, treating them as inferior to themselves, and even as those who are not worthy of the love and grace of God. They considered those people to be hopeless and without any opportunity to be saved by God. They became exclusivist in their faith and closed the doors of the faith from others.

That was why they showed that attitude, the haughtiness and the lack of respect for others, which the Lord Jesus wanted to point out to the people, through His interaction with the Canaanite woman. What Jesus showed the people through His own words was that they often thought that they alone were worthy of God’s goodness and salvation, and that they treated others literally like that of dogs, or less than humans, as Jesus showcased it perfectly through His interaction with the woman.

At that time, for someone of Jewish origin to sit together or be around a Gentile, or a non-Jew was considered to be inappropriate. The Jews did not want to have anything to do with the Gentiles, and rejected them and dismissed the faith that they actually had in the Lord. The Jews were not even allowed to enter into the house of the Gentiles and also to the house of those considered as sinners.

That was why the army centurion, likely to be a Gentile or non-Jew, kindly requested the Lord to just say the word to heal his servant, as he considered himself unworthy to have a Jew like Jesus to enter his house, considered taboo at that time among the Jewish society. And in the same manner, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law criticised Jesus severely when He went to eat in the house of tax collectors and prostitutes.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, yet, those people forgot that God is not just God over the people of Israel, but in fact, He is God over all of mankind, over the entire race of man. He is the Lord and Master of all, and He created all of us out of love, without exception. Otherwise, why would He create us in the first place if He does not love us or have concern about us?

God loves each and every one of us, and wants everyone to love Him with equal intensity and zeal. In fact, as the Gospel showed us, the love and faith which the supposedly pagan and non-Jewish Canaanite woman was greater than the faith which many of the Israelites had shown towards Jesus. While many of the Jews were skeptical and some were even downright hostile in opposition against Jesus, His teachings and His truths, the woman put herself completely in the hands of God, trusting that Jesus would hear her and heal her daughter. This shows that what matters is faith, and not one’s origins or backgrounds.

The same applied to the army centurion, and many other cases of the Gentiles and the pagans who came to love and be faithful towards God, even exceeding beyond what the Jewish people themselves had done. In this manner, God wanted to show them, and also all of us, that He does not favour anyone by the manner of their racial background, by their appearances, status, or by their worldly standings, or by their connections, but rather, by the faith which the people have in Him, and by the righteousness that they have shown in life.

God wants to remind each and every one of us, that we must not be shortsighted in life, that we become prejudiced against others just because we think that we are better than so and so because of our wealth, riches, power, privileges and all the other things that led us to be biased and be prejudiced against our brethren. This is what we must not do, brothers and sisters in Christ, because as Christians all of us are called to love one another equally as fellow brothers and sisters, children of the same God.

This is important as in our world today, as it had been in the past, mankind have caused great grievances and sufferings because of their prejudice and hatred, bias and anger against each other. We have seen how people used race and background as an excuse to oppress others, to impose one’s will on another, and to exploit and manipulate those who are weak, less fortunate and less powerful. We have seen just how the NAZIs and the many other wicked organisations in our history had committed blatant and great injustice against all humanity, in their genocidal pursuits, destroying the livelihood of others in the name of their prejudices.

And we have certainly heard of what had just happened very recently in the city of Charlottesville in the United States of America, where violent riot had arisen because of the actions of those who championed prejudice and injustice in order to advance their own selfish and irresponsible desires. We heard about those who used racism, prejudice and hatred against people of different backgrounds and beliefs, even those who do not shy away from violence while doing so.

And what should we do then, brothers and sisters in Christ? Perhaps the Scripture readings we heard today and the recent events are reminders sent to us by God, in order to tell us that as Christians it is our duty and obligation to stand up against all these attitudes and wickedness, against all those who have shown prejudices, biases and racist or divisive acts in their lives. We cannot be silent or be ignorant against all these people, and we cannot remain quiet in the face of those who cause suffering on others because of their wicked and distorted way of life.

At the same time, we should also inspect our own lives and recall our actions and deeds in life. Have we been prejudiced against others because we thought that we are better than them? Have we ever been angry against others as we saw them receive things we did not have, because we thought they did not deserve it and we deserved it better than them? If we have done all these, then perhaps it is time for us to move on and turn away from all those jealousies, prejudices and hatred, and instead embrace each other in love, peace and harmony.

Let us all from now on be bearers of God’s love into this world, reminding ourselves always that God loves each and every one of us without exception, and all of us are created and considered equal before Him. Let us all not be filled with our ego, our pride and haughtiness, thinking that we are in any way superior to others, but instead let us be loving and be compassionate to others, especially those who are struggling in their faith. Let us stand up to be different from those who advocated hatred and prejudice, and pray for them, that God may change their darkened hearts into new hearts filled with love. May God bless us all and bring us to grow ever stronger in our faith in Him. Amen.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017 : Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate a great feast and solemnity of the Church, honouring the Blessed Mother of God, Mary, most holy and ever virgin, the one whom God had entrusted to be the one to bear the Saviour of the world, and therefore, she was special among every other human beings, as one set aside by God to be the instrument of His salvation through Jesus Christ, her Son.

We must be wondering why is it that we as Catholics and as Christians celebrate and honour Mary as such? Why is it that we glorify her above every other human beings, even though she herself is also a human just like us? There are many out there who because of their misunderstandings and lack of knowledge about what we truly believe, about Mary and many other tenets of our faith, had criticised the holy Catholic faith, charging us falsely with idolatry of Mary.

Yet, if one truly understands what our faith is really about, they will indeed immediately see the errors of their ways and beliefs, and turn themselves to our faith. They will give honour to Mary, the mother of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ as we all have done. That is not because we glorify her as an equal to God or as a goddess in her own right, but rather because of her position as the mother of our Lord, God and Saviour.

In the historical times, especially from the traditions of the kingdom of Israel, the position of the mother of the king of Israel is a significant one, as what is also common in the other kingdoms and states in history. The queen mother has a significant place of honour, not because of her own authority and power, but because she is the mother of the king, the one who bore the king into the world, and the one who took care of the growth of the king.

If we honour our own mother, love her, and are grateful for all that she has done for us, in bringing us up, caring for us, and if we want to thank her and give her the best that we can give her, then it is the same case for the king, as shown in the time of the old kingdom of Israel, particularly shown as Solomon, the king, honoured his mother, Bathsheba greatly and put her place in a position of honour just beside his throne.

And thus, in the same manner, is it not then the same for the mother of our Lord and God, the King of all kings and the Master of the entire universe? Surely the Lord Jesus also honours His mother just as all of us honour our own mothers, and surely He has also given her a position of honour in heaven, close to His own throne, just as the kings of the ages past and the kings of Israel had honoured their own mothers?

This is the first reason why we celebrate this day, to honour the Mother of our God. However, that is not the only and main reason why we honour Mary. Indeed, on this day, the Scripture passages from the Vigil Mass and today's Mass focus on the role that Mary played as the bearer of the Messiah and the bearer of the One Who has established a new Covenant between God and mankind, sealed by His loving sacrifice on the cross.

Therefore, as the bearer of the Lord Jesus, the New Covenant He had established with us mankind, Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant, just as the first Ark of the Covenant bore inside it the Covenant of God, in the form of His laws, passed down through Moses, the manna that is the symbol of God's love in feeding His people throughout their journey through the desert. And in Jesus, is found God's laws and love personified, for He is the Law and He is Love.

If we read the Scriptures at the time of the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant is a very precious and holy container of God's Law, which mortal eyes cannot ordinarily look upon or touch with bare hands, such that it was veiled from sight by a veil, and carried upon its poles to avoid touching the Ark directly. The Ark itself represents God's holy Presence in this world, and therefore, in the Temple of Jerusalem, it is placed in the innermost and holiest of all its places, the Holy of Holies.

Therefore, that is why the Lord created His Ark of the New Covenant, Mary as holy and precious, because she bore in her womb, in her very own body, the New Covenant of God, in Jesus Christ. And there lies not the two slabs of rock on which God wrote His Law, but the Law Himself, for God Himself had taken the flesh of Man, and descended into this world, the Real Presence of His Being in this world, contained within the womb of Mary, who therefore became the New Ark.

That was why Mary was conceived without the taint of original sin, immaculate and pure, set aside from among all the other mankind. For the original Ark was made by human hands using the precious metals and materials adorning the container of God's original Covenant. But, there can be no better Ark than the creation of God, perfect and good, as all of us humans have been crafted by none other than God Himself.

It was just that we have been tainted and corrupted by sin, and we have been made unworthy by those wickedness and sins. That is the reason why God, accordance to our faith and belief, as per the knowledge passed down to us from the time of the Apostles, created Mary immaculate and free from those sins, making her the perfect vessel for the Messiah and Saviour, Lord of lords and King of kings, as the Ark of the New Covenant.

That is thus the second reason why we honour Mary, as the greatest of all the saints and all human beings, that while she is still human and not divine, yet, because of her special place in the story of our salvation, she deserves the honour being not just the Mother of God, but also because of the virtue of that position, also the new Ark, of the New Covenant of God in Jesus Christ.

And Mary remained true and righteous throughout her life, living in accordance with what the Lord commanded and willed her to do. She submitted humbly to the will of God, made known to her through the Archangel Gabriel in Nazareth, and become therefore the Mother of God by her humble acceptance. And she walked faithfully, caring for her Son, and following Him even to the foot of the cross, seeing Him as He laid there, hung on the cross, dying for the sake of us all mankind.

Mary therefore, as I have just mentioned, is the greatest of all the saints, and is our greatest intercessor in heaven. She is also our role model in life, an example for us to follow in faith and in how we ought to dedicate ourselves to the Lord. This is all the more reason why we love Mary, and why we honour her, just as her own Son loved her and honoured her greatly.

And because of that, we come to the reason why we rejoice and celebrate in today's Solemnity, that of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. First of all, we must be clear at what the Assumption is truly about. The Assumption does not equate with the Ascension of our Lord Jesus, a common misconception had by many, as in the Ascension, our Lord ascended in His own glory and by His own power into heaven, while in the Assumption, by the grace of God, Mary was assumed or taken up into heaven, in the body and soul.

The reason for the Assumption is none other than because all mankind have suffered death as a consequence for their sins and wickedness, and there is no one who can escape death. And while Christ is without sin, He willingly accepted death to free all of us mankind from the threat of eternal death, through His sacrifice on the cross.

And because He wanted to free mankind from death caused by their sins and their disobedience, it is only proper and right that He would want His own mother, who was conceived without sin, and had been righteous throughout her whole life, and as the holy Ark of the New Covenant, to be free from death, and not to fall into the same death that had claimed many others because of their sins. And hence, He gave her the grace, to be assumed body and soul into heaven, at the end of her earthly life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord Himself also said that the same thing will happen to us at the end of time, at the time of the Last Judgment when all of us will be brought up, in our glorified body and soul, into the eternal glory of heaven with God. Thus, as we celebrate this Solemnity of the Assumption today, it is also a foreshadowing of what will happen to us in the end, should we walk faithfully in the presence of God, and live in accordance with His will just as Mary had done.

On this joyful day, therefore, as we rejoice together with the whole Church, and honour the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, let us all renew our commitment to live in accordance with the will of God, imitating the examples shown upon us by Mary herself, in how she devoted her whole life and committed herself thoroughly to the Lord, no matter what difficulties and challenges she had to face, even the pain and sorrow of seeing her own Son being tortured and crucified.

Let us all change our lives and turn ourselves completely to the Lord, shedding off our sinful ways of life and all the wickedness and selfishness we have committed in life thus far, so that we may truly be worthy of the Lord, and in the end, we will also be worthy of living an eternity of joy and happiness, when the Lord will bring us up in body and soul to His heavenly glory at the end of time.

Let us ask for the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary, she who has been assumed into heaven, and upon whom the Lord had bestowed the honorary title of the Queen of Heaven, the queen mother of all the universe, for she is indeed the closest to the throne of her Son in heaven, and as she had made known to us through her various apparitions, she is always constantly praying for us, for all of us sinners still living in this world. O Blessed Virgin Mary, Assumed into your glory in heaven, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Sunday, 13 August 2017 : Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today's Sunday Mass readings, all of us heard from the Scriptures all about God appearing to His people in times of distress, to bring them out of their troubles and difficulties, for they are His people and He is their God. He has established His Covenant with them, and He will always be faithful to that Covenant which He had made with them. He will make them strong and give them the power and energy needed to remain faithful.

In the first reading today, we heard about how Elijah met God in the desert, at the holy mountain of God, after travelling there from the land of Israel for forty days and forty nights. The prophet Elijah had been in exile from Israel, after the king of Israel, king Ahab and his wife, Queen Jezebel, with all the pagan worshippers and the enemies of the Lord wanting for his death.

This was after what Elijah had done to the pagan Baal priests at the Mount Carmel, where God showed His might and showed that He is the True God. Four hundred and fifty Baal priests were killed that day by the Israelites, and the pagans wanted to get revenge on the prophet of God, Elijah. And thus, Elijah had to flee from Israel to the desert, where God took care of him and provided food and drink to him.

And He called Elijah to His holy mountain, where He revealed Himself to Elijah, in what we heard in our first reading today. God first sent a great windstorm that battered the rocks and the mountain, and then an earthquake that sundered and shook the entire mountain, and then a great fire that sizzles and burnt everything in its wake, but the Lord was not amongst all of these. Instead, Elijah recognised God being in the gentle breeze that followed, and covered himself before Him.

God spoke to Elijah, His prophet and servant, and commanded him to do what He willed for him, that he ought to go back to the land of Israel to continue the works which God had laid out for him amongst His people. God reassured Elijah of His providence and guidance, and strengthened the faith and commitment he had, that he returned to Israel to confront king Ahab and all those who have made themselves enemies of the Lord.

What Elijah went through at that time, was the same as what the disciples encountered at the time when they were in the boat, battered by the winds and the waves. That is what we have heard today from our Gospel passage. The disciples of the Lord were inside a boat, rocked by the winds and the waves, and they feared greatly for their lives. They encountered a great difficulty and a challenging moment in their life.

And Jesus appeared before them, walking towards them on the surface of the water. They did not believe that it was Him, as to them, it was impossible for any human beings to be able to walk on water, and less probable still in the midst of such a great storm. Their faith in Jesus was still weak, and as they were in such a situation, they faltered.

The boat also represents the Church, as the Church is often represented as a ship, carrying all the faithful, the people of God on it, as they journey through life, represented by the voyage embarked by the ship through the waters. And we are just like the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord on the boat. All of us are human beings just as they were, all sinners and weak in the flesh, and just they doubted and had fear, so do we in our own lives.

The storms and the waves are the troubles and challenges that the Church and all of us the faithful had faced, are facing, and will be facing as those who have kept the faith in Jesus our Lord. And it is the same challenges which the prophet Elijah has faced, in all the persecutions he encountered, the threats made to his life and safety. The prophet had endured those difficult moments, and there were surely times when there would be doubts and fears in him, as it had been for the Apostles.

But the prophet Elijah showed us that in the face of opposition and worldly persecutions, all of us must remain strong and committed to our faith in the Lord, for he never gave up the fight and the struggle against the pagan worship and the lack of faith among the Israelites, but continuing to persevere faithfully through his actions and deeds. He recognised the presence of God in his midst, and humbly came before Him to listen to His will.

The Apostle St. Peter also made the same attempt, as he tried to walk on the water towards Jesus, but his faith was not strong and he faltered. He was sinking when the Lord Jesus came to pick him up by the hand, and saved him from sinking. This is what many of us Christians will encounter in our lives, through those moments when we encounter great difficulties and challenges, at which time, we may just feel that we would rather give up our struggles.

However, we must never forget the fact that God is ever there for us, guiding us, protecting us and providing for us all that we need. He is ever ready to bless us and to give us what we need to persevere. This He has given to the prophet Elijah, caring for him as he went through his exile, sending him ravens to provide him with food and drink, and then later on, in another occasion, He provided for him through the widow at the city of Zarephath, who then God also blessed and provided for, that none of them would ever be in need at a time when a great famine ravaged the land.

Through all of these, God wants to let us all know that first of all, as Christians we cannot expect to have a smooth sailing life without troubles or concerns. If our lives thus far have been good and without problems, then probably it is either because God has truly blessed us, or more likely, that we have not been truly faithful in our lives and in our actions. If we do not actively live up to what we believe in our faith, then it is no surprise that we have not been encountering opposition in our faith life.

Then secondly, There will definitely be those times when we will stumble and falter in our faith, as the disciples had been, meaning that at those times, we may end up questioning our faith and beliefs in the Lord. We will be like the Apostles who trembled in fear, even doubting that the Lord is there for us, and we will perhaps end up sinking like St. Peter, because we do not truly believe that God is there for us.

Yet, that is the reality which we must accept, that the Lord is always with us, no matter what happens, and He is forever faithful to the Covenant which He has established with us all, His beloved ones. This is what I have mentioned at the very beginning of this discourse today, and which is the key message which the Lord wants us to know, as we continue with our respective lives, and especially as we continue with the struggles and hurdles of our lives.

God is always faithful, even when we have not been faithful. If not, He would not have sent us His Son to save us, by the loving sacrifice He made on the cross for our sake. He has loved us even though we are sinners and rebels, all those who have refused to listen to Him and those who have disobeyed Him. What He wants us to do, though, is for us to be thoroughly converted to His cause, and to have a profound change in our lives.

How do we do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? We have to learn to trust the Lord, in His providence, by deepening our relationships with Him, through prayer and devotion, and by spending our time with Him. It is too often that we mankind had forgotten to spend time with God, just because we are too busy and preoccupied with our worldly matters, ending up getting more and more distant from the Lord. It is not surprising then that we doubt in God when difficulties and challenges arise, for in the first place, our faith in Him is lukewarm and weak.

And then, we should also practice and deepen our faith through real actions based on our faith. We do not need to do great and marvellous deeds, for indeed, any actions ought to begin from ourselves, from small and little deeds that we do in life. If we can learn to love our neighbours and all those people who come to us, needing our help and love, then surely we can also show love in even greater deeds. If we are able to be generous to others in small things, then we can be generous in even greater things.

Let us all therefore, be truly faithful and devoted to God, that no matter what tribulations and challenges that will come our way, we will always be able to persevere through them, following in the footsteps of the prophet Elijah and also the Apostles and disciples of the Lord, to whom the Lord had given the gift of faith. Let us no longer be afraid or be doubtful, but put from now onwards, our complete trust in God, for He is always faithful and loving to us, without ceasing.

May God be with us always, and may He bless all of our endeavours, that we will always be able to work together, as His one Church, united together on this journey, that we will reach out to Him and find our way to the eternal glory He has promised to all those who are faithful to Him. May God bless us always, forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 6 August 2017 : Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time and the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, we celebrate not just the Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, but also the great occasion of the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. On this occasion, we remember the time when our Lord Jesus Christ was revealed in the fullness of His glory and divinity before His disciples at the Mount Tabor, in the presence of three of His disciples, St. Peter, St. James and St. John.

The occasion the Transfiguration of the Lord is truly rich with numerous symbolisms that are very significant to our faith, as it is a great revelation of not only just Who our Lord Jesus truly was, but also what the purpose of His coming into this world was, and He also showed us all an example of what all of us as Christians must do in our own respective lives.

First of all, the Transfiguration was the moment when Jesus revealed the fullness of His divine glory before mankind, represented by His own Apostles. It was where He revealed that He was not just merely a Man, the Son of Man, but instead, He was also at the same time, the Divine Son of God, Who was incarnate in the flesh through His mother Mary. Thus, Christ has two natures, Man and Divine, perfectly united in the person of Jesus Christ.

He revealed the fullness of His divine glory, as the Son of God and Saviour of all, Who then met with Moses and Elijah during that moment of Transfiguration, another important revelation and symbolism that all of us should take note of. Moses and Elijah each represents the two important tenets and aspects of the faith, namely the Law of God, for Moses was the one through whom God made known His laws to His people, while Elijah represents the prophets of God, who laboured to reveal and teach the Word of God to the people.

This is an important representation of Christ as the embodiment and fulfilment of both the Law and the Prophecies of the prophets. The Law of God was made perfect in Christ, Who revealed to His people the true meaning of the Law, teaching them what is the true purpose of the Law and how all of us mankind are able to live according to the Law, in order to love the Lord our God, by loving our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Then, Christ is also the the perfect fulfilment of the prophecies which had been spoken by the many prophets and messengers of God, through whom God had made known His will to His people across the ages. God has promised His salvation to His people, to redeem them from the chains of sin. This is a promise which He had made from the beginning of time, from when our first ancestors first sinned against Him because of the temptation by Satan.

And thus, Jesus Christ our Lord was born through the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother, to be the One through Whom God would fulfil His long promised salvation, and as the keystone and centrepiece in the entirety of God's grand plan of salvation and liberation for us all, His most beloved people. It was through His loving sacrifice on the cross, bearing the burden of our sins and faults that He has shown this love for us, and it is through the cross that God brought us all a new hope in Him.

Mankind have long lived in the darkness, the darkness of ignorance and the darkness of their sins and disobedience against God. The lies and wickedness of the devil have covered us, and we have been corrupted by those sins and faults which we committed in life. But deep in our hearts, all of us truly groaned for the opportunity and filled with the hope that one day all of us can be freed from the tyranny of sin and evil. And yet, it is too often that temptations of the world and the persuasions of the devil and his allies have kept us from being able to listen to this desire, the desire for us to receive God's salvation and be freed.

Thus, to all those who have seen the glory of the Lord Jesus Transfigured before their eyes, they must have seen in Him the long awaited promise of God, through the piercing light and the exceedingly bright white garments and the Body of the Lord that shone forth, as God is the True Light, Light of the world, Whose light penetrates the darkness of evil and wickedness, and Whose light is terror to evildoers and wicked people, yet a tender and loving source of hope for all those who cling on to hope in Him.

The Lord showed through His Transfiguration a glimpse into our own future state of grace, for all of us are indeed called to become like Christ, and all of us who have made ourselves worthy through our actions and deeds in life, will receive God's grace and love, and we will be, in accordance with the words of the Scriptures, transformed wholly, body and soul, our entire being, to be like the Lord, and to rejoice and share with Him in His glory forevermore.

Just as the Lord had assumed the flesh of Man by coming down upon us through Jesus Christ our Lord, therefore, by assuming His humanity, He has united us all to Him, all of us who seek Him and desire to be with Him, and just as He is glorified in His Transfiguration, we too shall also be glorified together with Him, at the time when He will come again to gather all of those whom He deems to be worthy of Him and His grace.

To us, the best examples of how we can best understand this is like that of the saints of the Church, whose deeds and actions in life are still remembered and honoured even to this very day. The saints shone with glory and greatness, but not because of their own greatness and power, but because they shine with the glory of God and the righteousness found in them. They lived in accordance with God's will and therefore, God glorified them all and lifted them up to share with Him the glory of heaven.

The saints are like the stained glass in our churches. The stained glass on their own without light do not look beautiful or shiny, and they are just like any other glass, dark and devoid of goodness. Yet, when light shines upon them and pass through them, all of us who see the light through the stained glass see the great beauty of the stained glass, just as the saints were glorified because of what God had done through them in this world.

This Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord is a reminder to all of us that God is calling us to be thoroughly transformed in our respective lives, to adhere faithfully to His ways and obey His laws wholeheartedly. We are called to walk in the footsteps of the saints and martyrs who have preceded us, and now are in the glory of heaven. They were themselves once sinners too, just like us, and yet, they listened to the Lord speaking in their hearts, calling them to righteousness.

And they responded with action, following the Lord and obeying Him, just as God reminded His disciples, that Jesus, is His Beloved Son, and that they ought to listen to Him. That is how the saints end up where they are now, because they followed the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, and they made themselves to be His faithful servants through which He exercised His good works among His people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all no longer be trapped in the darkness of sin, and strive to be freed from the chains of slavery, the slavery of sin and worldly desires, the chains of greed and hatred, of jealousy and anger, all of which had weighed us down and threatened to bring us down into the damnation in hell. Let us all instead put our trust in the Transfigured Lord, He Who had revealed His truth to us, so that we may know it, and see through Him, what we will become should we walk in His footsteps.

Yet, let us not forget, that the story of the Transfiguration of our Lord ended with a stark reminder for us, that we must not be complacent nor must we expect a life that is easy and without challenges. The three Apostles, St. Peter, St. James and St. John wanted to stay on at the Mount Tabor, in the glory of the Transfigured Christ. They wanted to pitch tents for the Lord, Moses and Elijah, so that they might continue to revel in the glory of the Lord.

But, the Lord did not have it that way. He knew that He had to go down the mountain, leaving behind His glory and the moment of His glorious revealing in His Transfiguration. He knew that going down the mountain would mean travelling on to Jerusalem and from then on to suffer the Passion, bearing the heavy cross on His shoulders, on which was laid the burdens of all of mankind's sins and faults.

Nonetheless, He went on, going down the mountain, showing His disciples by example, that firstly, for the sake of His love for His people, He was willing to shed away all of the glory of His divinity to be ridiculed and mocked, to be scourged and battered with blows, all for the sake of His love for us. Who else would have been willing to endure such punishment for our sake?

And He showed perfect humility and obedience to the will of God, His Father. All other men would have succumbed to the temptation of power and worldly glory, as Christ stood up there on the mountain, the temptation must have been great for Him to show forth His might unto the world. Yet, He humbly stepped down from that glory, and as shown in various other occasions, He always listened to the will of God His Father, and obeyed Him, even unto taking up the cross and dying for us.

Are we all able to imitate the examples of Christ in that manner? Many of us are too proud and filled with personal ego and desires, to be able to submit to the will of God. Instead, we want to bring glory to ourselves, and to gain good things for ourselves, often at the expense of others who have to suffer because of our desires and greed. This is what we cannot do, brothers and sisters in Christ. All of us must seek to be humble as Christ was, and allow God to enter into our hearts that we may be transformed.

It is often that we close our hearts to the Lord because of that pride, as we are unable to admit that we have been wrong or mistaken in our ways, that we have been sinful and wicked in our deeds. Yet, if we continue to harden our hearts, the only ones who will lose will be us, as we will end up persisting in our ways of sin. We should instead pray for the grace of humility, to listen obediently to the word of God and know His will, and what it is that He wants us to do. We should throw away the shackles placed on us by our pride and ego, and seek to become more like Christ day after day.

May the Lord, Who in His glorious Transfiguration has revealed to us the truth about Himself, help us to be ever closer to Him, to be more like Him day after day, that we will be transformed completely from the creatures of darkness we were once, to be the glorious children of God, worthy of Him and the eternal glory He has prepared for us, to be like the holy men and women, the holy saints who have gone before us to the eternal glory of God. Amen.

Sunday, 30 July 2017 : Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scriptures which called us all to reflect on our lives, and one important question that all of us must ask ourselves, that is 'what is it that is most precious to us?' This is something that many of us ignored or refused to reflect on, but it is actually something that we need to do, so that we can know how we ought to proceed on with life from now on.

In the first reading today, all of us heard the prayer of King Solomon of Israel, son and successor of the famous King David. In his young age and inexperience, King Solomon prayed to God asking for a favour, that He might grant him wisdom, the wisdom to discern what is good from what is evil, the wisdom to make the right decision and judgment. He did not ask for wealth, power, influence or worldly fame; which are all the things that we normally would have desired.

He sought for a greater treasure, one that is far surpassing the treasures of this world. For there is no greater treasure in this world than the treasure of the wisdom and knowledge of God. There can be no greater gift than the gift of the love of God, for His love is eternal and to come to the presence of God is what all of us should be aiming for. His grace and inheritance is everlasting while the goods and glories of this world are fleeting and merely temporary.

This is what the Lord Jesus in our Gospel reading today told His disciples, and which we have heard as well. He spoke about the kingdom of heaven, using a parable, as a way to convey the message of His truth to the people, many of whom at the time were farmers, fishermen, merchants and shepherds. He spoke to them of the kingdom of God as represented by a very valuable treasure hidden in a field, as a pearl of great and exceptional value, and as a great and big fishing net spread out, catching numerous fish of all kinds and sizes.

Through those parables, God wanted to reveal to His people, what a great treasure that they had coming upon them, which He had given them through none other by the revelation of His love through Jesus Christ, His Son. Jesus did not only come into this world in order to reveal the truth of God to mankind, but He also came to bring all mankind closer to God, to be their Saviour and Redeemer, liberating them from the chains of their sins.

If we reflect deeply on the history of man, and how we mankind ended up living in this world today, we will realise that how mankind had chosen what is lesser in value in terms of the treasures we seek, and threw away the greater treasure that we have once had in the Lord. Our ancestors were created by God and were destined for an eternity of happiness, enjoying the goodness and the fruits of the earth in Eden, in perfect harmony with God. We were intended to enjoy forever a life of true joy and bliss.

However, the devil, Satan, our great enemy, came to tempt us through persuasions, sweet talks and lies, by which he managed to turn the hearts of mankind away from God, beginning from the time of Adam and Eve, when they chose to submit to the temptations of Satan who offered them the knowledge over good and evil, by eating from the forbidden fruit of the forbidden tree of knowledge.

Satan was using our humanity's natural curiosity and the desires in our hearts to trick and to tempt us into sin. We are curious to know more, and we desire to have more, and this is part of our humanity. And as Satan used this opportunity to strike at us, it is indeed important for all of us to look up into what each and every one of us value in life, and what we think of as our priorities in this life.

Many of us are often too preoccupied with our work, with our career and our businesses. Many of us work many hours, often at the expense of our relationships with our loved ones, with our families and friends, because we want to accumulate for ourselves more money, more possessions and wealth, as we want to live a more comfortable or even luxurious life. And it does not help us that we live in a world inundated with so many worldly temptations, and with so many commercial materialism.

We often judge and think of others based on their possessions and wealth, or based on their status or influence in the society. We labour hard, hours after hours seeking for more of these, wealth or fame, renown or praise from others. But we have to realise that whatever it is that we have received and gained, it is unlikely that we will be satisfied with whatever we have. It is our human weakness that we are easily tempted to want and to desire for even more of what we have gained.

It is the greed in our heart that cause us to desire for more, and never be satisfied by all the goods and the blessings that we have received. The saying is indeed true that power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts everything. The more it is that we have, in power, wealth and fame, the more that they may corrupt our minds and our hearts, and twist us into committing sin against God and mankind alike.

That is why many kings and rulers of the world, while some were good and just, but many others were wicked and tyrannical in their rule. They oppressed the people and their subjects, levying high taxes on them, and demanding unjust exactions and pressures on them, in order to advance their own interests, to make themselves be more wealthy and powerful, and gain greater esteem and influence among their fellow rulers and kings.

This applies to others as well, because even in little things, we often get into feud and rivalries, conflicts and troubles as we are incapable of letting go of our desires. When our desires and wants come into conflict with each other, we end up in dispute and even infighting among ourselves, and such were the reasons for wars and atrocities that happened in the history of this world. And we will never be happy or be satisfied, for as I mentioned, when we have more, we will want even more.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us ask ourselves, the same question that I have placed at the very beginning of this discourse, 'What is it that is most precious to us?' or if I rephrase it, 'what is our priority in life?'. Let us ask ourselves what it is that we live for, that whether it is to accrue for ourselves the wealth and treasures of this world? Remember, the Lord Himself said that if we gather up these treasures of the world, all would end up with nothing.

After all, it does not matter how much wealth we obtain, how great a fame and position that we have attained, how far in life we have gone, nothing of these we will carry with us to the life that is to come. We may have attained the wealth and capability to purchase and own the biggest houses, the most luxurious lifestyle and all, but in the end, when we face the Lord in judgment, none of this will be able to help us, less still if we commit vile and wicked deeds in order to attain and gain all those possessions we have.

What King Solomon had done, in asking God for true wisdom in his prayers is something that we all should also do, instead of asking for more power, more wealth, more affluence or fame. As King Solomon has resisted the temptation for all those worldly desires, all of us should do the same as well. Instead, let us all as Christians seek to become ever closer to God, and indeed pray for the wisdom to understand God's will, that He will show us the way forward in how we should live a life faithful to Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all not be swayed by the lies and the falsehoods spread by the devil, who is always constantly trying to lure us away from God and to trap us in his insidious traps. Let us strive to do what is right and just in life, turning away from sin and by dying to our pride and selfishness. Let us be humble in life, and instead of seeking personal enrichment and satisfaction, let us be focused on obeying the will of God and be righteous in all that we do. Seek not what can be destroyed by human means, but seek the eternal treasure found in God alone.

How do we do this, brothers and sisters? We begin from ourselves and from those who are around us. Through our little actions and deeds in life, by showing love, care and concern for others, and by sincerely sharing the love and the blessings we receive, especially with those who have little or none, with those who are suffering and those who have no one to love them, we have done what God wants us to do.

Spend our time to do what is beneficial to everyone rather than being too busy with ourselves, with our work or with our businesses. And the Lord Who knows all of our actions and deeds, will give us His everlasting treasure, the eternal glory of heaven. We shall not want again, and we shall be God's people forever. Amen.

Sunday, 23 July 2017 : Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, all of us heard the message of the Scriptures, telling us all to be righteous in all of our ways, heeding all that the Lord had taught us to do, by obeying the laws and rules of the Church, and by living a genuine life of faith, filled with love for God and with love for our fellow men. This is what all of us as Christians have been called to do, to be true disciples of our Lord in all of our words and deeds alike.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we heard how Jesus our Lord spoke to His disciples in parables, and then revealed to them the meaning of those parables. Through those parables, God through His Son, Jesus, wanted to reveal to us, the truth about Himself and how we all ought to strive to achieve our salvation through Him, that is by obeying Him and by walking righteously in His path. This is where we should indeed take heed of what we have heard from the Word of God in the Scriptures today, that we may know how we ought to go forward from now on.

First of all, we heard about the parable of the weeds, in which a sower sowed good seeds in a field, and hoped to see good plants and crops growing in due time, only to see weeds growing amongst the good crops because an enemy had come in the dark and sowed the seeds of the weeds amongst the crops. The enemy surely wanted the crops to fail, and the weeds were scattered among the crops in order to compete against the crops for nutrients, and for the whole crop to be less desirable as a whole.

This parable showed us the works of God amongst us mankind, for God Himself is the sower, who sowed good seeds, that is the seeds of faith in our hearts. The field itself is the world, encompassing all of us mankind, in whom God planted His goodness, His Spirit and presence in all. However, the enemy, that is the devil, is out there, actively trying to undermine the good works of God, by spreading the weeds among us, that is sin and the temptations to sin.

But did God in the parable of the sower immediately ordered all of the wheat crops to be thrown away with the weeds? No, He did not do so. He allowed the wheat to grow first, and mature into mature wheat crops with bountiful fruits, and the weeds also grew alongside them. That is because all of us mankind, who have been tainted by sin ever since our forefathers disobeyed God and His commandments, are still ultimately beloved by God, our Lord and Creator.

He wanted to give us all a second chance, the opportunity for us to redeem ourselves, and that was why, He allowed us to continue to grow and develop in this world, with all of our imperfections in us, all the good and evil within us. What we all need to take note of, is then, what the Lord Jesus then continued to tell His disciples, comparing His heavenly kingdom with the parable of the mustard seed and the rising bread.

The Lord mentioned that the kingdom of Heaven is like that of a mustard seed, very small compared to the other seeds and fruits of more noticeable trees and crops. However, that very small seed, when planted in a good soil, will grow into a large tree, larger than many other trees and scrubs, certainly much larger than what people would normally think such a small seed would grow into.

There are many symbolisms in this particular parable, as the mustard seed represents the faith in all of us. The faith might have begun as a small seed, which we ourselves often do not realise that we have with us. However, given the right conditions, when planted in a good soil, meaning that when we realise that gift of faith present in each one of us, and then doing what we can to cultivate that faith, through our actions in life, through the love which we show to God and to our fellow men, and through our justice and righteousness, we will allow the faith to grow in us.

And indeed, as in the other parable not mentioned in today's readings, the parable of the sower, the seed that fell onto the rich and good soil bear its fruits a thirtyfold, a sixtyfold and even a hundredfold and more! That means, if we are truly faithful to the Lord, and truly practice what we believe in our lives, we are allowing ourselves to grow in the sight of the Lord, like a growing stalk of wheat that is healthy and bountiful.

Otherwise, if we do not do what the Lord had told us to do, but instead preferring to follow the temptations of the devil, we are like those wheat crops that were outcompeted by the weeds and whose life is choked out of it by the wheat. That is the reality of sin, brothers and sisters in Christ. The devil is always trying to tempt us with sin, and indeed sin can often feel very pleasurable and enjoyable. It is easier to do what is considered as sin before God, rather than to obey the will of the Lord.

But if we do not make an active effort to resist the encroaching allures of sin, we will often end up falling into those temptations and commit sin before God, and in the end, as the sower and master of the field ordered his servants to collect all the weeds and burn them in the fire, He will also collect all the unworthy wheat, all those corrupted and destroyed by the weeds, and throw them into the fire, for they are useless and meaningless as a harvest.

We need to ask ourselves, and look deep into our lives, brothers and sisters in Christ. Are we doing what the Lord wants us to do? Or are we instead too busy with our wants and desires, with our busy daily schedules and preoccupations in life to take note of what it is that God really wants us to do with our lives? If we are not providing the best condition for God's good works to be realised in us, then how will our faith in God grow and develop?

Just like in the parable of the flour rising as a dough when yeast is added to the flour and mixed in it. All those who have baked before will know that yeast cannot cause the rising of the dough into a fluffy and soft, spongy bread without the proper condition. It requires a seal from outside air, since yeast will only cause fermentation of the flour and creating the fluffy texture of the bread in the absence of oxygen.

Similarly, if our lives are not devoid of all of its wickedness and all of the sins which we have committed, and if we do not make the conscious and active effort in order to turn ourselves away from those sins, how will we then grow closer and more devoted to God? We will only draw further and further away from Him, and when the time of judgment comes upon us, we shall end up on the wrong side of the judgment. Do we want to end up in the eternal torment prepared for the devil and all of his fellow fallen angels? Do we want to be counted among those rejected by God?

Now, indeed, it is the right time for us to do something with our lives. Many of us often like and prefer to delay and to put off doing what we can in fact do now, at this very moment, beginning from this minute. But, do we realise that our lives are at the mercy of God? Do we all realise that we may just meet the end of our lives at any moment that God wishes it? Should we wait until it is too late for us and then regret about it?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all begin from this moment on, in every little things we do in our respective lives, to be faithful to God in all of our ways. In this manner, slowly we are providing for ourselves a rich and fertile soil for the seeds of faith inside each one of us to germinate and to grow, providing rich fruits of the Spirit inside us. And the Lord, Who knows all that we are thinking and doing, will reward us in the end.

Let us all make it a habit to do what is good according to God's will, by loving our brethren, by showing mercy and forgiveness to those who have caused us hurt and suffering. Let us all show our faith by example, and not just by mere words alone. Let us all be ever more devoted and committed disciples of the Lord, so that in the end, all of us will share the eternal joy and glory of our Lord in His kingdom in Heaven. May God bless us all forever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, 16 July 2017 : Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, all of us gather together listening to the words of the Scriptures, which are indeed the Word of God, which in accordance with what we heard from the first reading taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah. The Word of God has come into the world, and the Word had been sent from God to dwell among us, He Who is none other than Christ, Son of God and Word of God incarnate in flesh of Man.

The entire theme of this Sunday’s readings is about the growth of seeds and plants, in which the Word of God is likened to seeds that God planted in each and every one of us. In the Psalm, we sing to the glory of God, remembering how He nurtures the earth and cares for it. In the same manner, He nurtured us all and allow us to flourish in this world. But how about that seed, the Word of God which He planted inside each one of us?

In the Gospel passage today, we heard the well-known parable of the sower, in which Jesus our Lord spoke to His disciples about how the sower of the seeds sowed his seeds in various places, only for the seeds to end up in various end results. Some of the seeds ended up on the roadside, eaten up by the birds, while some others fell on a rocky soil, unable to grow because they were unable to establish their roots, and while some others fell among thistles and brambles, which choke the life out of the newly grown plants, and last of all, some fell on rich soil, where the seeds grew and bore in multiples of what had been planted.

The Lord Himself has explained the meaning of each of the segments of this parable, explaining to His disciples what they all need to do in order to blossom in their faith, allowing the Word of God to grow in them and to encompass them completely. However, it is also important for us all that we must heed its message, so that each and every one of us know how we ourselves should live in accordance with God’s will, and be able to flourish best in our faith.

First of all, we heard of the case where the seeds fell on the roadside and were eaten up by the birds of the sky. The Lord Jesus explained that this is the case when the devil came by and took the Word away from the people, who therefore did not believe because of that. It is a clear reminder for every one of us that we have a great adversary in the devil, the one who is always active, prowling about seeking to drag our souls into damnation. He is always active and continue to plot for the downfall of all mankind, God’s beloved creation.

We must be careful lest the devil comes to us and snatches from us the Word of God, because of all his lies and all the things that he tempted us with, pulling us away from the path to salvation and leading us into the path of ruin. He is always ever active seeking for those whose faith in the Lord are weak, and all those who do not have a good relationship with God, whose faith is superficial and lacking in strength.

How should we strengthen our faith in God then? It is by deepening our relationship with Him, through prayer and time which we spend with Him. We should not be too busy with ourselves and whatever it is that we are doing in life. It is often that we leave the Lord to the last priority in our lives, and as a result, we open ourselves to the devil to come into our hearts and snatch whatever it is that God had placed in us. We end up falling into sin and evil, because of our inability to strengthen that relationship we ought to have with God, and God is not at the centre of our lives.

This is related with what we then heard about the seeds that fell on the rocky ground, where they were able to grow quickly and yet, they were unable to form proper roots due to the rocky soil, and they ended up being scorched and destroyed from the lack of water and the intense heat. This is what happened when all of us are closing up ourselves to the Lord, because of what I had just mentioned, when we ended up being so busy with ourselves and our daily business, that we end up shoving God away from the centre of our lives.

Let us ask ourselves, how many of us find going to the Holy Mass to be tedious and as a chore? How many of us are always looking at our watches, wondering when the celebrant of the Mass will finish his long homily or when we will be able to leave the Mass to continue with our daily proceedings and business? How many of us grumble because we have to go to the church on Sundays and on certain Holy Days of Obligation?

If we do not prioritise God in our lives, and if we find serving and worshipping the Lord as a chore, that is exactly when we have the seeds spread by God landing on a rocky soil, on our souls, hearts and minds that are filled with so many distractions and other preoccupations that we do not allow the Word of God to take roots and grow deep inside each one of us. That is when we start to wander off, away from God’s salvation and into damnation, since the Word of God has no place in us and thus we also will have no place in God’s kingdom

Then, for the case when the seeds fell among the thistles and brambles, as the Lord Jesus explained to His disciples, were those who have accepted the word of God, and yet when challenges and troubles come, when the concerns of this world come, they ended up losing the faith and the Word of God was cast out from them, as they abandon God when they were unable to commit to Him wholeheartedly as they should have.

This is quite clear cut for us, as it is often that as Christians, we will encounter difficulties and challenges, when those who are around us, even from our friends and families, who do not agree with us and with what we believe in our faith in God. There will be difficulties, obstacles and even rejection, and there will be moments when we will stumble and be tempted to give up, to compromise our faith and to appease those who demand that we change our ways and abandon our faith.

It is our human nature for us all to think about ourselves first, and to preserve ourselves. And it is also our human nature for us to want to feel accepted by others, and that is why, many of us will be tempted to make compromises and to abandon tenets of our faith. That is when we falter, and when we fail in our faith. If we do not have the courage to stand up for our faith and continue to walk righteously before God, how then will God find us worthy of Him, if we are not capable of committing ourselves to Him?

There will be plenty of temptations awaiting us the faithful people of God, from the temptation of physical goods such as money, wealth and possession, that had indeed kept many of us occupied, in how we spent so much time in our career, trying to accumulate for ourselves all these worldly goods, or in order to achieve acclaim and worldly fame and glory. These are some of the common temptations that had caused so many among us to stumble in our way.

Rather, all of us as Christians are called to be like the case where the seeds fell onto rich soil, grew healthily and produce tremendous amounts of returns in the form of products, in many multiples, thirtyfold, sixtyfold, hundredfold or even more than these. This is when all of us do not just receive the Word of God and remain passive, ignorant or lukewarm in our faith, but instead, we must embody what we believe in and be genuine with our faith.

This is how we provide a good soil for the Word of God to grow and blossom, by providing an environment filled with faith, hope and love. All of us are called to be true and living disciples of the Lord, filled with compassion and love for others, with mercy and forgiveness for our brethren who have caused us pain and suffering, those who have hurt us or hated us, and then also for us to be truly just and righteous in all of our ways and actions.

Just as farmers need to toil the soil, to provide ample amount of air in the soil, and as they also need to place animal droppings or chemical fertilisers on the soil in order to keep the plant healthy, in the same manner, our faith and the Word of God within us, the seeds of faith God has planted in us require us to commit ourselves to action that accentuates our faith and make what we believe no longer just mere words but also a reality.

That is how we make ourselves to be fruitful in the sight of the Lord, by devoting ourselves to do what He wants us to do, to walk in His path and to do what His will is for us. It is how we take what God had given to us, and then make it into a rich harvest, which the Lord will reap at the end, and seeing our great and bountiful faith, He shall bless us all with everlasting life and eternal glory.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He empower us all to live in accordance with His will, filled with joy knowing that because all that we have done, all the hard work and toiling we have given for the sake of the Lord, all of these are meant for the glorification of God, as what St. Paul in his Epistle in our second reading today mentioned. We await for the coming of the Lord, Who will come in His glory and reward all those who are faithful to Him. May He look favourably on our faith in Him, and bless all of our works. Amen.