Sunday, 29 January 2023 : Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday all of us as Christians we are all reminded to be ever more righteous and committed to the path which the Lord has shown and taught us all, and each one of us are called to embody what the Lord taught His disciples and hence all of us, as He laid out for us in the Eight Beatitudes that we heard in our Gospel passage today. Each one of us as Christians are expected to be exemplary in our lives and we are all reminded that our actions and way of life do affect others and can either be an inspiration to one another to follow or can instead be a source of scandal for the Lord and His Church.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Zephaniah, we heard of the about the words of the Lord speaking to His people through Zephaniah, a prophet who lived and ministered during the reign of King Josiah of Judah, one of the last kings of that kingdom and in the last decades of Judah as an independent entity. Zephaniah called on the people of the Lord to be meek, humble and just, as well as to seek refuge in the Lord so that on the Day of Judgment, they may truly find rest and consolation in God, their Hope and their Strength. Zephaniah spoke of these in the context of how the people of God in the past centuries before that time had often refused to obey the Lord and His words, and had acted proudly and with ambition, seeking worldly glory and satisfaction, all of which led them down the path of sin.

And due to their sins, they had been sundered from God’s grace and love, and suffered the consequences of their sins. They had been defeated, crushed and conquered by their enemies, their cities and towns destroyed and burnt, their houses and dwelling places turned upside down and occupied by the others brought in to dwell in their lands. Many of the people of God themselves were also brought into exile as what happened when the northern kingdom of Israel, consisting of ten of the twelve tribes of the people of God, were destroyed by the Assyrians, and many of its people were brought away to distant lands by the victorious Assyrians. This happened just a few decades before the time of the prophet Zephaniah and his ministry.

Hence, what Zephaniah delivered before the people is a reminder to the people that each one of them ought to return once again to the path that God has shown them, to be willing to listen to God and to allow Him to guide and lead them down the right path instead of insisting on walking down the path of rebelliousness, pride, greed and ambition that many of their ancestors had taken. Zephaniah assured them of the Lord’s guidance and that if they remained faithful in God, then the Lord would provide for them and that they would be preserved and protected. They would once again be God’s people and they would be restored once again to their honourable state and position. Unfortunately, the people of God lapsed again into sinful ways after King Josiah passed on, rebelling against God and hardening their hearts against Him, eventually leading to the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Babylonians, much like how the Assyrians destroyed the kingdom of Israel earlier on.

In our second reading passage today, we heard of the words of St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful people of God in Corinth, in which he told them how God chose the seemingly weak and unimportant people to receive His grace and salvation, and how God will strengthen and give His grace, wisdom and strength to the weak and the humble, all so that they can indeed gain glory through the Lord, and be saved, as opposed to the proud and the haughty, all those who trusted in their own power and greatness more than they trust in the Lord and His providence. The Apostle hence reminded the people of God not to follow the path of worldliness, greed, pride and ambition, which the world advocates, but to follow the Lord and the path He has shown us all and taught to us.

That brings us now to the Eight Beatitudes itself, which the Lord pointed out in His famous ‘Sermon on the Mount’ as detailed in our Gospel passage today. The Eight Beatitudes highlighted to us some of the great virtues that all of us as God’s faithful and righteous people ought to have in our lives. Unless we live our lives according to the Beatitudes, we cannot truly call ourselves as true and genuine Christians, as if we profess to have faith in God and yet, our actions are otherwise, and in opposition to what He has presented in the Beatitudes, then we are no better than hypocrites and unbelievers. Through His presentation of the Beatitudes, the Lord is exhorting and reminding us all to model our lives based on the Beatitudes, to be good and righteous just as He is good and righteous.

As we heard from the Beatitudes, the virtues of being a Christian is essentially to be able to put God as the focus and centre of our lives and existence, and removing from ourselves the taint of pride and ego, to put the need of others and our fellow brothers and sisters around us ahead of our own selfish desires, ambition and greed. A good Christian and a good follower of the Lord is someone who seeks the Lord with all of his or her heart and strength, who loves Him and who desires to obey Him and His will, and who wants to walk with Him in the path of righteousness, justice and peace. That is what is meant by being poor in spirit, as it refers to our internal desire to let God come into our lives and transform us to be His righteous and good servants, realising the limitations of our own human power and ability.

And allowing God to lead us, all of us ought then to seek for a good and holy life, one that is filled with the same love that God has for each one of us, in loving our fellow brothers and sisters, in seeking peace and harmony between all the peoples, and in doing what is right and just in every opportunities available to us, and in enduring the persecutions, challenges and trials that may come our way in the midst of our journey as Christians wandering through this world filled with sin, evil and darkness. We should be good examples and role models for one another, living our lives faithfully and commit ourselves each day with faith, so that all others who witness our actions and hear our words, see our way of life, may all come to believe in God and know Him as well through us.

The Lord Himself has said and reassured us that if we live in the way that He has taught and shown us, in the way of the Beatitudes, then we truly will be blessed and be filled with His grace, and on the Day of Judgment, mercy and love shall be shown us, as the gates of Heaven and eternal life will surely be opened to us. However, if we continue to persist in our state of sin, in our disobedience and rebellion against God, then we will end up falling deeper and deeper into the path towards damnation and destruction, as what had happened to many among our predecessors. And if we recall what we have just discussed earlier on, all these were caused by their failure to adhere to the values and virtues espoused in the Beatitudes. As good Christians, we truly need to live our lives according to the Beatitudes.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore do our best (if we have not done so yet) to live our lives according to the Beatitudes. Let us all be that examples of virtue and love, of righteousness and justice in our daily actions and living, so that by our faith and dedication to God, we may continue to inspire one another in living our Christian lives faithfully, and we may also remain humble and committed to the Lord, and not be easily swayed by the many worldly temptations all around us, which can indeed mislead us down the wrong path in life. Let us all resist those many temptations and attachments we may have to worldly vices and evils, and get rid from ourselves the excesses of worldly matters and desires, so that we may indeed grow ever closer to the Lord and be ever more worthy of Him and His grace and salvation.

May God be with us all and may He empower all of us with the strength and courage, the virtues and the goodness in us so that we may truly walk in the path of His Beatitudes, ever reminding ourselves to be good and righteous in all things and at all opportunities available to us. May He show us His love always and may all of us continue to live worthily in His Presence, loving Him and our fellow brothers and sisters, that we may all inspire one another to get ever closer to the Lord, our Saviour and loving Father. May God bless our every good efforts, works and endeavours, all of our actions and dealings, interactions and more. Amen.

Sunday, 22 January 2023 : Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Sunday of the Word of God, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday, the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time we mark the occasion of the Sunday of the Word of God which was instituted a few years ago by Pope Francis, our Supreme Pontiff with the purpose of rediscovering our love and zeal for the Lord through the deepening of our knowledge and understanding of the Sacred Scriptures. It is important that we have to spend some time and effort to get to know more about the Word of God contained within the Scriptures and hence, that is why this Sunday in particular, let us all delve into what we have just heard from the Scripture passages and focus our attention on the truth that the Lord Himself has brought into our midst.

In our first reading today, all of us heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah of the prophecy speaking of the coming of the Messiah, of the coming of the Light of salvation that dispels the darkness surrounding the region of Naphtali and Zebulun, which by the time of the Lord Jesus was known as the region of Galilee. It was in Galilee that the Lord’s family originated from, as St. Joseph and Mary stayed in the small town of Nazareth in Galilee, although St. Joseph at least initially hailed from the tribe of Judah in Bethlehem. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, the members of the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council later on said that no prophet were to be expected to come from the region and hence, Jesus must have been a false prophet and Messiah.

Yet, if only they had read the prophet Isaiah and his prophecies more carefully, just as we have heard ourselves in our first reading today, then they would have realised that the Saviour of the world would indeed come through the region of the north, the lands of Naphtali and Zebulun, the land of Galilee, where the Lord indeed stayed during the early years of His life, and also where He began His ministry after His Baptism at the Jordan. Contextually it is also significant to take note that back then, at the time of the prophet Isaiah, the land of Naphtali and Zebulun, as part of the northern kingdom of Israel, had become a foreign land, after the destruction of that kingdom by the Assyrians, as its people had been brought off into exile in far away lands, and foreigners were brought in to dwell in those lands.

By the time of the Lord Jesus, a few centuries after the time of the prophet Isaiah, the lands mentioned was known as Galilee, and that region was also still in the peripheries of the communities of the people of God, which was mainly centred in Jerusalem and Judea back then. That the Lord decided to come to those regions was also highly symbolic and meaningful, as it represents the Lord’s desire to gather back all of His scattered people, and to restore the honour of the people of God, and at the same time also calling upon the people from distant lands and from the pagan nations to embrace the truth and love of God. It means that God’s salvation was not only meant for the Jewish people only, but to all the children of mankind, to all the peoples of all races and origins, just as God has always intended.

And as we heard the Gospel passage today, again that same prophecy from the prophet Isaiah was repeated, proclaiming the coming of God’s salvation as made true and real by the actions that the Lord carried out in Galilee, as He called His first disciples and gathered them all, choosing the Twelve among them to be His Apostles, while also performing many miracles and wonders, healing many of the sick who came to Him and were brought to Him. He went from places to places, healing the sick, casting out demons, making those who were blind to be able to see again, and opening the ears and loosening the tongues of the mute, fulfilling the many other prophecies that Isaiah and the other prophets had been proclaiming about the Messiah.

And all of these had been proclaimed to us as well, the truth that God has shown us and delivered to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Through His Church, the Lord has revealed and taught to us His ways, and showed us the proof of His salvation. Like the Apostles we have received the same truth and Good News, and it was through them and their successors that we have received this truth, passed down successively down the generations through the Church of God. Without the hard work and efforts of the Apostles, the other disciples and their successors throughout the history of the Church, there would have not been any of these things happening. We would have remained ignorant of the truth of God, and separated from His salvation and grace.

This reminds us today as we commemorate this Sunday of the Word of God that each and every one of us have been called by God to our various ministries and callings in life, depending on the various gifts, talents and abilities that He had given us. All of us have been called to embrace the Lord’s calling of not only just knowing and appreciating the Word of God more in our lives, but also in proclaiming the Word of God and the truth of God in the midst of our respective various communities, in our schools and workplaces, amidst our families, relatives and circles of friends and acquaintances, and even to strangers whom we encounter daily in our respective lives. And we cannot be effective and faithful servants of the Lord and His Word, unless we have good knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, hence, it is important that we commit some time to spend each day and each and every available moments to us, to read the Sacred Scriptures and deepen our knowledge and understanding of it. However, it is important that we also have to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the teachings of the Church as well because if we read the Scriptures and interpret it based on our own understanding and comprehension, then as history had shown us, it can lead us into the path of error, as the many heresies and the false paths had done, and also those who believe that the Scriptures alone hold the sole authority of God’s truth, or ‘sola Scriptura’. Instead, the teachings of the Church, its Magisterium is important in ensuring that our understanding and appreciation of the Sacred Scriptures remain rooted in Christ and His truth.

That is why, first of all we need to spend more time in reading the Scriptures, as if we do not even know the words contained within it, how can we even begin to discern if something we heard from elsewhere or others are true or false? Especially during this time of rapid information exchange and greater availability of informations from all sources, it is very easy for us to be swayed into falsehoods, just as misinformations and fake news had been making rounds all around the world in the past few years and decade. That is why, after we have spent the time to read more of the Scriptures, we also have to deepen our understanding of the Scriptures through knowing more of the teachings of the Church as contained within the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as through careful listening and reflection of the words of the bishops and priests who are our teachers and guides, in guiding us together within the Church into the right path.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why it is also important that we also help one another to stay in the path of truth, by sharing with one another whatever insight and understanding we have of the Scriptures, rooted in the traditions and teachings of the Church and the Apostles. Let us all be zealous and committed evangelisers and missionaries, in our daily living, in our every moments. Let us do our very best to be exemplary in faith and to be inspiration to each other in our faith and in our lives. May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us as well, so that hopefully we may lead more others to the path of God’s salvation and grace. May God bless us in our every good efforts, works and endeavours, all for His greater glory, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 15 January 2023 : Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday is the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, as we have progressed from the season of Christmas into this time and season of the Ordinary Time. As we recall the words that we have just heard from our Scripture passages today, we are reminded that all of us are Christians because we believe in the salvation that Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Saviour of all the whole world had brought upon us into our midst. He, the Divine Word of God Who has willingly embraced our humanity and descended down into our midst, to be with us as Emmanuel, God Who is with us, and He has shown us the Love of God manifested in the flesh, approachable and reachable by each one of us. This Sunday we are reminded of our faith in Him and then also what each one of us as Christians ought to do with our lives.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah in which the Lord spoke to Isaiah regarding the servant of God that God would send to His people in order to proclaim to them His salvation, gathering them from the nations, calling them back to His loving embrace once again. This can be interpreted as referring to the prophet Isaiah himself, whom God had sent into the people of Judah to help remind them to walk down the right path, turning away from their sinful past. But, this was also in fact a premonition and prediction of the coming of the One Whom God had proclaimed to His people throughout history, a promise renewed yet again and again through His many prophets, of the Messiah or Saviour Who will be the Shepherd and Guide of all of God’s beloved people.

The prophet Isaiah often spoke about the coming of the Messiah, and made many prophecies regarding Him as recorded throughout the Book of Isaiah, and hence, this would be yet another one of God’s renewed promises that He would send into the midst of His people the Deliverer, the Saviour of all, Who as the one and true Good Shepherd, would reassemble the body of the faithful people of God, gathering all the lost sheep of the Lord and bringing them all once again into the most loving embrace of God’s love. Through Christ, each and every one of us have been brought closer to the Lord, our Heavenly Father, as He offered on our behalf the perfect offering of love, the offering of Himself as the Lamb of God, the Paschal Lamb of Sacrifice, as well as being the High Priest Himself, and all these were highlighted in our Scripture passages today to remind us of this fact and truth.

As we heard in our Gospel passage today, St. John the Baptist proclaimed before his own disciples how the one Jesus of Nazareth Who had come to him at the River Jordan, and asked to be baptised was indeed the Messiah, the One Whom everyone had been long waiting for. St. John the Baptist also said that, there was the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, the One Whom St. John the Baptist had been labouring and working to prepare the coming for. He spoke also of what happened when the Lord Jesus was baptised, of how the Holy Spirit descended upon Him as a Dove coming down from Heaven, and the Father’s voice being heard, proclaiming that Jesus is truly His Son, the Son of God manifested in this world, as the proof of God’s ever enduring Love for each and every one of us.

And as mentioned earlier, what St. John the Baptist spoke of, as the Herald of the Messiah, was in fact also a foreshadowing and premonition of what the Lord Jesus would do for our sake, as the Lamb of God Who would be sacrificed on the Altar of His Cross, with His Most Precious Body broken and His Most Precious Blood spilt and poured down upon us, for the atonement of all of our sins, and for our redemption. The Lord Jesus would gather us all to His heavenly Father’s presence, by giving Himself, bearing upon His own shoulders the whole burden, punishments and consequences due for our many and innumerable sins. He manifested therefore God’s most generous and selfless Love, by His own actions, as He reached out to all of us, even to the most marginalised and those ostracised and rejected by the society, and calling on us to turn away from our sins, and once again embracing God’s Love and grace to the fullest.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to these words of the Scriptures reminding us of the salvation which the Lord has brought into our midst through Jesus Christ, His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, we are all therefore presented with the need for us all to focus our lives and efforts to follow the Lord, Our Saviour and King, our Good Shepherd and Guide, Who has shown us the way to the Father, to eternal life and true joy through Him. As Christians we cannot be idle or ignorant of what we are all expected to do in our respective lives, in the many opportunities and moments that the Lord has presented and provided to us. Each and every one of us have been blessed and granted various unique gifts and talents, so that we may make good use of them to do good and to follow in the footsteps and examples of Christ Himself, in how He has reached out to us and loved even the least amongst us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we progress through this Ordinary Time and season, we are constantly being reminded again and again, that we cannot be ‘ordinary’ in our living and we should not let the time and moments pass us by just like that, without us doing anything of merit and worthy of the Lord. Instead this ordinary here ought to refer to the fact that this is the time for us to settle down and get to work, that is for us to do what the Lord has told us to do, to do our responsibilities and parts, in proclaiming the truth and love of God in the midst of our various communities, and in being exemplary and good role models in how we live our lives so that everyone who witness our works and actions, heard our words and interactions, witnessed our lives and more may truly believe in God through us, because our lives and actions have become beacons of God’s Light and source of the same truth that Christ has brought into this world.

The question is, are we willing and able to commit ourselves to follow the Lord wholeheartedly, if we have not done so yet, in our daily living and in our every interactions and works? Are we able to commit ourselves to a life of virtue and Christian values, as we have been called and reminded to do, by the Church and by the Lord Himself? These are things that we should really spend time to ponder upon, while also reflecting and discerning on what we can do better going forward in our respective lives as Christians, all those whom God had called and chosen, and have chosen in our own ways, to respond to His call. Let us not let our faith be an empty and dead one, but let us seek to be always ever courageous in how we live our faith through our actions, words, deeds, interactions and more that we may inspire even more people to follow our path as well.

May the Lord, our most loving God and Father continue to guide us in our lives, and help us to persevere through the many challenges and trials that we may have to face and endure in life. May He strengthen and empower us all in our everyday moments, so that we may always be firm in our faith and that we may resist the temptations to disobey and sin against Him. May God bless our every actions, our every works and efforts, our every good endeavours, all for His greater glory, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 9 January 2023 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today on this day we mark the occasion of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord which also marks the last day of the entire Christmas season in our liturgical calendar and year. It means that after the more than two weeks of celebrations since Christmas Day, beginning tomorrow, we shall enter into the Ordinary Time of the year. Of course traditionally Christmas is still being celebrated all the way up to the second day of February, the fortieth day since Christmas, marking a traditional forty days of Christmas season. But this day marks that transition from our focus and emphasis on the birth of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, and into His ministry and works in this world, with the moment of Baptism marking that significant new beginning and change.

If we recall our Scripture readings of the previous days, it was leading up to this moment of the Baptism of the Lord, when the early life stage of Our Lord, growing up from a Child to adulthood ended, and then, the Lord finally entered into the beginning of the mission and works that He had been sent into this world for. That Baptism at the Jordan marked the moment when He was also revealed yet another time, to St. John the Baptist and those present at His baptism, Who He really is. The Lord Jesus indeed had no need for purification or baptism, but yet, He still shared in the same Baptism that all of us as members of the Church had gone through, not because of His sins or impurities, which He had none, but because He wanted to share with us His death and Resurrection, to bring us into the promise of eternal glory and life.

The Baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ at the Jordan symbolically marks the beginning of His ministry of bringing all of us, the lost sheep and flock of God back to Him, because Christ is our Good Shepherd, Who has come into this world to seek for us and to gather all of us back into God’s loving embrace. He has gathered all of us, and shares with us our human existence and life, so that, by also sharing our common Baptism, He may lead us all through the waters of death and rebirth, just the way the people of Israel went through the Red Sea, walking through the water, from their slavery in Egypt and the desolation they had there, into the freedom that God had promised them, and the promise of happiness and joy in the Promised Land that God had promised them and their forefathers.

Now, as we celebrate this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we are all called to remember the moment of our own baptism, when we were received into the Church whether as infants or as adults. If we were too young to remember any details because we were baptised as infants, then we should go and find out more about that important moment from our godparents and/or those who were there to witness our baptism, especially while they are still around us. The moment of baptism is something that is essentially as important as our own birthdays, just as the Lord Jesus said in one occasion to Nicodemus, the faithful Pharisee, that to be His followers and disciples, is like one that is born again through the Spirit, and baptism is that moment marking our rebirth into this new life and existence.

How about us? Do we remember our baptism and do we keep it as an important event in our lives? Do we celebrate it the way we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord today in this Feast day? Or do we just let it be a mere footnote and another event in our lives, and not paying more attention to its significance and importance to us? All of us as Christians must recall our Baptism with the same vigour and zeal just as we rejoice and celebrate this Feast today, and also remember the baptismal promises that we have made then, and renewed every year at Easter. Many people could not even remember the date and time of their baptism, and this tells just how little importance we assign to that moment which should have been a truly groundbreaking, memorable and watershed moment in our lives and existence in this world.

The reason why we remember our baptism is also not just so that we recall what we have promised, but also a reminder that we have to continue carrying on the way of life that is expected of us as baptised Catholics, as members of the Lord’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Baptism is not the end of our journey as Christians, especially for those of us who went through the process of initiation into the Christian faith through a period of discernment and catechumenate, and it is not the pinnacle of our Christian journey. Rather, baptism marks that new beginning in our lives in which we have begun a new path of life and existence, dedicating it all to Christ, and striving our best to follow Him in our path of life. Just as the Baptism that the Lord Jesus experienced at the Jordan began His ministry formally, our own baptism should be the point marking the new beginning of our lives.

It means that we are all called towards a better and holier existence, one that is more attuned to the Lord and to His ways and His truth. We are all called to answer God’s call in our lives, making good use of whatever provisions and gifts, blessings and graces that He has given to each one of us. As Christians, we cannot be idle believers, as those who are idle and do nothing at all, are those whose faith are lukewarm and without sincerity, and in the words of St. James, faith without good works and deeds is essentially a dead and useless faith, the faith of a hypocrite that does nothing for the person, and is of no use when we have to account for ourselves on the Day of Judgment. The Lord has given us all His blessings, graces, various talents and abilities so that we may make good use of them for the benefit of others, our fellow brothers and sisters all around us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rejoice today in this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, let us all spend some time to reflect on whether we have been truly faithful to God in our actions and deeds, in our way of life and believing in Him. If we have not been truly faithful and devoted to Him, then the time is now for us to really consider and discern our path going forward in life, and we should spend the time to think of how we can better glorify God by our lives and actions, in each and every daily moments and at all opportunities. Let us all strive to draw ever closer to God and to remain firmly committed to walk the path towards His salvation and grace, fulfilling and ever being mindful of our baptismal promises. May the Lord, by Whose Baptism we have been saved, through His suffering and death on the Cross, and by His glorious Resurrection, empower us and strengthen us that we may always ever be faithful to Him, now and always. Amen.

Sunday, 8 January 2023 : Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the whole Church celebrates the great Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, marking the occasion when the Lord revealed and manifested Himself to all the nations through the representation of the Three Magi or the Three Wise Men, who came all the way to Bethlehem after long and arduous journey, seeking the Star of Bethlehem marking the birthplace of the Saviour. This Solemnity and Feast, also known as Theophany especially amongst those from the Eastern Church traditions remember the time when God ‘Theos’ manifested Himself before His people, a term known as ‘Epiphaneia’, that has the meaning of revelation, as He came forth bringing the Light and Hope to the nations, just as He has promised through His prophets and messengers.

This day, we remember how the Three Magi went on the long journey from distant lands, with the very bright Star of Bethlehem as their guide, leading them towards Bethlehem where the Lord was born. This great Solemnity of the Epiphany marks the revelation that God’s salvation was not only meant for the Jewish people, unlike what some among the Jews back then believed, but His salvation was extended to all of mankind, to people of every race and origins. The Lord loves all of His beloved people, all those whom He had created, the children and descendants of the first man, Adam and his wife, Eve. Hence, it is why the Lord revealed His love to all of His people, manifested in the Child Jesus, born in Bethlehem, at that moment just over two millennia ago which we have been celebrating throughout this Christmas season.

The Three Wise Men, the Magi came to the Lord bearing three gifts, of gold, myrrh and frankincense. Each one of those gifts are themselves symbols and signs that reveal to all of us Who that Child born in Bethlehem truly was. Each of those gifts represent an aspect of the Lord, as the Saviour and the Divine Word of God Incarnate. Gold, frankincense and myrrh are all precious goods and they were also precious back then as well. All of these were brought by the Three Magi from distant lands, bearing those gifts to honour and worship the Holy One born on that day in Bethlehem. The Magi were likely wise and learned men who could read the signs and the stars, the omens of times, and hence, they could surmise the rough identity of the Saviour from what they read from the signs of nature.

Through God’s grace and wisdom, those Magi came to Bethlehem presenting the three gifts that inadvertently, and unknown to them, reveal the true identity of the Lord and Saviour when all three were combined together. The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh are gifts that are fit for a King, a Divine Being and a High Priest, as well as a Suffering and Dead Messiah. All these represent just exactly Who this Child Jesus was, as He laid there in the manger before the Three Magi, who came to Him paying homage and worship. That small, little and vulnerable Child is the King of Kings, promised to all the people as the King Who will lead them into triumph and victory, as well as the Divine Word of God, incarnate in the flesh, one fated to bear the whole weight and burden of our many sins and the punishments due to those sins, to suffer all these for the sake of our salvation.

First of all, gold has been well-known to us as a very precious metal that is highly desired in many civilisations, among many cultures and peoples. Gold has been used as means of exchange and as monetary goods and means of wealth and possessions for many millennia. And gold has often been reserved for the rich and powerful, especially to the royalty and kings. In some cultures, Hence, the gift of gold presented by the Magi highlights the truth that Jesus Christ is indeed a King, the King over all Kings, worthy of praise and honour, all glory and power. Jesus Christ is also the one and only True God, manifested in the flesh as the Son of Man, and He is the only one worthy of worship and adoration, just as many civilisations and cultures honour their idols and gods with gold and lots of offerings of made of gold and its derivatives.

Then, frankincense is used as the finest quality of incense, which is very expensive and precious, and reserved only for the purpose of the worship of the Divine. The frankincense offered by the Magi to the Child Jesus marks Him as the Divine Son of God and not merely just a Man or a Prophet, and not only that but He is also the High Priest of all the faithful, all the people of God. As the High Priest of all, He offered on our behalf the most worthy sacrifice of all, made not of any mere animals or offerings of this world as how the old Israelite customs and the Law had done, but with His own Most Precious Body and Blood. Yes, Christ has offered Himself as the only worthy offering that is sufficient to redeem us from the massive multitudes of our sins, faults, mistakes, iniquities and more. Through His offering of Himself, as the Lamb of God, the Paschal Lamb, He has bridged the previously unbridgeable gap existing between us and God.

Then lastly, the gift of myrrh may have indeed been very strange for a Child, as myrrh was a precious and expensive spice but it was used for the anointing and preparation of the bodies of the dead. Yet, it was that gift of myrrh which became a revelation of what this Child, this Saviour from God would do for our sake. Christ, the Child to Whom the Three Magi offered their gifts including the peculiar gift of myrrh, would have to suffer and die for the sake of everyone in the whole entire world. He had to bear His Cross, in offering Himself as the Paschal Lamb of offering, beaten and crushed, tortured and made to endure the worst humiliations and punishments for our sake. All these happened so that by His wounds, and by His broken Precious Body and outpoured Precious Blood, all of us may be saved, redeemed and pardoned from those sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as the three gifts of the Three Magi showed us all, the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Lord, the Holy Child born in Bethlehem had revealed Him to the nations, to all of us. We all have indeed received the knowledge and truth that the same Messiah we celebrate this Christmas, the Child Jesus, is truly our King of Kings, our Almighty God, the Divine Word incarnate in the flesh, born as Man, so that by His sharing of our human existence and nature, He might unite us to Himself and by sharing with us His suffering and death on His Cross, He may then share with us His glorious Resurrection. Yes, all of us have received the promise of resurrection and eternal life, from the Lord Himself, and as long as we are faithful to Him and put our trust in Him, we shall be assured of all these.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate in this glorious Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord today, let us all therefore reflect on the One Whom we are all celebrating about, that is Christ Himself, God manifested in the flesh as the Child, the Son of Man born in Bethlehem. Let us all celebrate the love of God made Man, that through Him and all of His great works in our midst, dwelling amongst us, we may indeed receive the assurance of eternal life and joy. The Lord has also called all the people of all the nations to follow Him, and assured everyone, every single children, sons and daughters of mankind to come to Him. His salvation is no longer limited to just those whom He first chose, the Israelites and their descendants, but He revealed that all the while, He wants every single one of us to be saved, all because He loves us, without prejudice and without bias, all of us equally beloved by our Creator and Master.

Just like the Three Magi in the past, let us all therefore come to seek the Lord with all of our efforts and hearts, our minds and might. Let us all be faithful to the Lord and follow Him, like the Three Magi making the intense effort in walking the long journey from their distant homelands to seek the Saviour through the Star of Bethlehem. Are we all able to do the same as they had done? They were not believers at first, but saw the signs that God had sent into this world, followed those signs and came all the way to Bethlehem to pay Him homage and to worship Him. They represent all of us mankind, all of whom have been scattered all throughout the world, but through the grace and love of God, Who has sent us Christ to be our Good Shepherd, to gather us all from the ends of the world to Himself, to find our way to God.

May the Lord, Who made Himself visible and Who has revealed Himself to all the nations, be with us all and continue to call upon us to follow Him. May He continue to guide us all through the path of grace and His love and truth, so that we may follow Him, with all of our hearts and minds, and be truly saved. Just as He has promised and assured us through His suffering, death on the Cross and finally through His glorious Resurrection, He has shown us the light of His hope and the grace of eternal life that will be ours if we keep strong our faith in Him, and continue to walk faithfully in His Presence and remain firmly committed to His path. May the Lord, our glorious and mighty God, Who revealed Himself to all the nations, be with us and bless our every good deeds and efforts, all of our endeavours for His greater glory. Wishing all of us a Most Blessed and Holy Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord! Amen.

Sunday, 8 January 2023 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today on this Sunday we mark the occasion of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord which also marks the last day of the entire Christmas season in our liturgical calendar and year. It means that after the more than two weeks of celebrations since Christmas Day, beginning tomorrow, we shall enter into the Ordinary Time of the year. Of course traditionally Christmas is still being celebrated all the way up to the second day of February, the fortieth day since Christmas, marking a traditional forty days of Christmas season. But this day marks that transition from our focus and emphasis on the birth of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, and into His ministry and works in this world, with the moment of Baptism marking that significant new beginning and change.

If we recall our Scripture readings of the previous days, it was leading up to this moment of the Baptism of the Lord, when the early life stage of Our Lord, growing up from a Child to adulthood ended, and then, the Lord finally entered into the beginning of the mission and works that He had been sent into this world for. That Baptism at the Jordan marked the moment when He was also revealed yet another time, to St. John the Baptist and those present at His baptism, Who He really is. The Lord Jesus indeed had no need for purification or baptism, but yet, He still shared in the same Baptism that all of us as members of the Church had gone through, not because of His sins or impurities, which He had none, but because He wanted to share with us His death and Resurrection, to bring us into the promise of eternal glory and life.

The Baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ at the Jordan symbolically marks the beginning of His ministry of bringing all of us, the lost sheep and flock of God back to Him, because Christ is our Good Shepherd, Who has come into this world to seek for us and to gather all of us back into God’s loving embrace. He has gathered all of us, and shares with us our human existence and life, so that, by also sharing our common Baptism, He may lead us all through the waters of death and rebirth, just the way the people of Israel went through the Red Sea, walking through the water, from their slavery in Egypt and the desolation they had there, into the freedom that God had promised them, and the promise of happiness and joy in the Promised Land that God had promised them and their forefathers.

Now, as we celebrate this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we are all called to remember the moment of our own baptism, when we were received into the Church whether as infants or as adults. If we were too young to remember any details because we were baptised as infants, then we should go and find out more about that important moment from our godparents and/or those who were there to witness our baptism, especially while they are still around us. The moment of baptism is something that is essentially as important as our own birthdays, just as the Lord Jesus said in one occasion to Nicodemus, the faithful Pharisee, that to be His followers and disciples, is like one that is born again through the Spirit, and baptism is that moment marking our rebirth into this new life and existence.

How about us? Do we remember our baptism and do we keep it as an important event in our lives? Do we celebrate it the way we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord today in this Feast day? Or do we just let it be a mere footnote and another event in our lives, and not paying more attention to its significance and importance to us? All of us as Christians must recall our Baptism with the same vigour and zeal just as we rejoice and celebrate this Feast today, and also remember the baptismal promises that we have made then, and renewed every year at Easter. Many people could not even remember the date and time of their baptism, and this tells just how little importance we assign to that moment which should have been a truly groundbreaking, memorable and watershed moment in our lives and existence in this world.

The reason why we remember our baptism is also not just so that we recall what we have promised, but also a reminder that we have to continue carrying on the way of life that is expected of us as baptised Catholics, as members of the Lord’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Baptism is not the end of our journey as Christians, especially for those of us who went through the process of initiation into the Christian faith through a period of discernment and catechumenate, and it is not the pinnacle of our Christian journey. Rather, baptism marks that new beginning in our lives in which we have begun a new path of life and existence, dedicating it all to Christ, and striving our best to follow Him in our path of life. Just as the Baptism that the Lord Jesus experienced at the Jordan began His ministry formally, our own baptism should be the point marking the new beginning of our lives.

It means that we are all called towards a better and holier existence, one that is more attuned to the Lord and to His ways and His truth. We are all called to answer God’s call in our lives, making good use of whatever provisions and gifts, blessings and graces that He has given to each one of us. As Christians, we cannot be idle believers, as those who are idle and do nothing at all, are those whose faith are lukewarm and without sincerity, and in the words of St. James, faith without good works and deeds is essentially a dead and useless faith, the faith of a hypocrite that does nothing for the person, and is of no use when we have to account for ourselves on the Day of Judgment. The Lord has given us all His blessings, graces, various talents and abilities so that we may make good use of them for the benefit of others, our fellow brothers and sisters all around us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rejoice today in this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, let us all spend some time to reflect on whether we have been truly faithful to God in our actions and deeds, in our way of life and believing in Him. If we have not been truly faithful and devoted to Him, then the time is now for us to really consider and discern our path going forward in life, and we should spend the time to think of how we can better glorify God by our lives and actions, in each and every daily moments and at all opportunities. Let us all strive to draw ever closer to God and to remain firmly committed to walk the path towards His salvation and grace, fulfilling and ever being mindful of our baptismal promises. May the Lord, by Whose Baptism we have been saved, through His suffering and death on the Cross, and by His glorious Resurrection, empower us and strengthen us that we may always ever be faithful to Him, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 6 January 2023 : Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the whole Church celebrates the great Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, marking the occasion when the Lord revealed and manifested Himself to all the nations through the representation of the Three Magi or the Three Wise Men, who came all the way to Bethlehem after long and arduous journey, seeking the Star of Bethlehem marking the birthplace of the Saviour. This Solemnity and Feast, also known as Theophany especially amongst those from the Eastern Church traditions remember the time when God ‘Theos’ manifested Himself before His people, a term known as ‘Epiphaneia’, that has the meaning of revelation, as He came forth bringing the Light and Hope to the nations, just as He has promised through His prophets and messengers.

This day, we remember how the Three Magi went on the long journey from distant lands, with the very bright Star of Bethlehem as their guide, leading them towards Bethlehem where the Lord was born. This great Solemnity of the Epiphany marks the revelation that God’s salvation was not only meant for the Jewish people, unlike what some among the Jews back then believed, but His salvation was extended to all of mankind, to people of every race and origins. The Lord loves all of His beloved people, all those whom He had created, the children and descendants of the first man, Adam and his wife, Eve. Hence, it is why the Lord revealed His love to all of His people, manifested in the Child Jesus, born in Bethlehem, at that moment just over two millennia ago which we have been celebrating throughout this Christmas season.

The Three Wise Men, the Magi came to the Lord bearing three gifts, of gold, myrrh and frankincense. Each one of those gifts are themselves symbols and signs that reveal to all of us Who that Child born in Bethlehem truly was. Each of those gifts represent an aspect of the Lord, as the Saviour and the Divine Word of God Incarnate. Gold, frankincense and myrrh are all precious goods and they were also precious back then as well. All of these were brought by the Three Magi from distant lands, bearing those gifts to honour and worship the Holy One born on that day in Bethlehem. The Magi were likely wise and learned men who could read the signs and the stars, the omens of times, and hence, they could surmise the rough identity of the Saviour from what they read from the signs of nature.

Through God’s grace and wisdom, those Magi came to Bethlehem presenting the three gifts that inadvertently, and unknown to them, reveal the true identity of the Lord and Saviour when all three were combined together. The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh are gifts that are fit for a King, a Divine Being and a High Priest, as well as a Suffering and Dead Messiah. All these represent just exactly Who this Child Jesus was, as He laid there in the manger before the Three Magi, who came to Him paying homage and worship. That small, little and vulnerable Child is the King of Kings, promised to all the people as the King Who will lead them into triumph and victory, as well as the Divine Word of God, incarnate in the flesh, one fated to bear the whole weight and burden of our many sins and the punishments due to those sins, to suffer all these for the sake of our salvation.

First of all, gold has been well-known to us as a very precious metal that is highly desired in many civilisations, among many cultures and peoples. Gold has been used as means of exchange and as monetary goods and means of wealth and possessions for many millennia. And gold has often been reserved for the rich and powerful, especially to the royalty and kings. In some cultures, Hence, the gift of gold presented by the Magi highlights the truth that Jesus Christ is indeed a King, the King over all Kings, worthy of praise and honour, all glory and power. Jesus Christ is also the one and only True God, manifested in the flesh as the Son of Man, and He is the only one worthy of worship and adoration, just as many civilisations and cultures honour their idols and gods with gold and lots of offerings of made of gold and its derivatives.

Then, frankincense is used as the finest quality of incense, which is very expensive and precious, and reserved only for the purpose of the worship of the Divine. The frankincense offered by the Magi to the Child Jesus marks Him as the Divine Son of God and not merely just a Man or a Prophet, and not only that but He is also the High Priest of all the faithful, all the people of God. As the High Priest of all, He offered on our behalf the most worthy sacrifice of all, made not of any mere animals or offerings of this world as how the old Israelite customs and the Law had done, but with His own Most Precious Body and Blood. Yes, Christ has offered Himself as the only worthy offering that is sufficient to redeem us from the massive multitudes of our sins, faults, mistakes, iniquities and more. Through His offering of Himself, as the Lamb of God, the Paschal Lamb, He has bridged the previously unbridgeable gap existing between us and God.

Then lastly, the gift of myrrh may have indeed been very strange for a Child, as myrrh was a precious and expensive spice but it was used for the anointing and preparation of the bodies of the dead. Yet, it was that gift of myrrh which became a revelation of what this Child, this Saviour from God would do for our sake. Christ, the Child to Whom the Three Magi offered their gifts including the peculiar gift of myrrh, would have to suffer and die for the sake of everyone in the whole entire world. He had to bear His Cross, in offering Himself as the Paschal Lamb of offering, beaten and crushed, tortured and made to endure the worst humiliations and punishments for our sake. All these happened so that by His wounds, and by His broken Precious Body and outpoured Precious Blood, all of us may be saved, redeemed and pardoned from those sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as the three gifts of the Three Magi showed us all, the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Lord, the Holy Child born in Bethlehem had revealed Him to the nations, to all of us. We all have indeed received the knowledge and truth that the same Messiah we celebrate this Christmas, the Child Jesus, is truly our King of Kings, our Almighty God, the Divine Word incarnate in the flesh, born as Man, so that by His sharing of our human existence and nature, He might unite us to Himself and by sharing with us His suffering and death on His Cross, He may then share with us His glorious Resurrection. Yes, all of us have received the promise of resurrection and eternal life, from the Lord Himself, and as long as we are faithful to Him and put our trust in Him, we shall be assured of all these.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate in this glorious Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord today, let us all therefore reflect on the One Whom we are all celebrating about, that is Christ Himself, God manifested in the flesh as the Child, the Son of Man born in Bethlehem. Let us all celebrate the love of God made Man, that through Him and all of His great works in our midst, dwelling amongst us, we may indeed receive the assurance of eternal life and joy. The Lord has also called all the people of all the nations to follow Him, and assured everyone, every single children, sons and daughters of mankind to come to Him. His salvation is no longer limited to just those whom He first chose, the Israelites and their descendants, but He revealed that all the while, He wants every single one of us to be saved, all because He loves us, without prejudice and without bias, all of us equally beloved by our Creator and Master.

Just like the Three Magi in the past, let us all therefore come to seek the Lord with all of our efforts and hearts, our minds and might. Let us all be faithful to the Lord and follow Him, like the Three Magi making the intense effort in walking the long journey from their distant homelands to seek the Saviour through the Star of Bethlehem. Are we all able to do the same as they had done? They were not believers at first, but saw the signs that God had sent into this world, followed those signs and came all the way to Bethlehem to pay Him homage and to worship Him. They represent all of us mankind, all of whom have been scattered all throughout the world, but through the grace and love of God, Who has sent us Christ to be our Good Shepherd, to gather us all from the ends of the world to Himself, to find our way to God.

May the Lord, Who made Himself visible and Who has revealed Himself to all the nations, be with us all and continue to call upon us to follow Him. May He continue to guide us all through the path of grace and His love and truth, so that we may follow Him, with all of our hearts and minds, and be truly saved. Just as He has promised and assured us through His suffering, death on the Cross and finally through His glorious Resurrection, He has shown us the light of His hope and the grace of eternal life that will be ours if we keep strong our faith in Him, and continue to walk faithfully in His Presence and remain firmly committed to His path. May the Lord, our glorious and mighty God, Who revealed Himself to all the nations, be with us and bless our every good deeds and efforts, all of our endeavours for His greater glory. Wishing all of us a Most Blessed and Holy Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord! Amen.

Sunday, 1 January 2023 : Solemnity of Mary, The Holy Mother of God, and World Day of Prayer for Peace (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday and New Year’s Day we celebrate together as the whole Universal Church the great celebration of the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, as we also mark the last day of the Christmas Octave, that is the eighth day of Christmas. On this day we honour Mary, whom the Church had honoured greatly with the title of the Mother of God, which is also one of the four Marian Dogmas, the Dogma of the Divine Motherhood of Mary, stating that Mary is truly the Mother of God by her being the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world and the Son of God. Because we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, therefore it is only natural that Mary should also be the Mother of God, as the Mother who brings forth into this world God Himself, incarnate in the flesh.

Back then, in the early Church, there was significant divisions and disagreements between various members of the Church and teachers of the faith regarding the nature of the Lord and also the relationship between Mary and her Son as the Saviour of the world. Some within the Church, like those who followed the heretical Arius, claimed that the Lord Jesus was not co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father, and was merely a created being, and as such, the disagreements also extended to Mary’s nature, on whether she was the Mother of God or whether she was merely the mother of Jesus the Man, the Man born in Bethlehem in Judea about two millennia ago. There were also other heretical thoughts developing afterwards on the extremes of Monophysitism and Nestorianism. The former contended that the human and divine natures of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, was one and indivisible, meanwhile the latter contended that the human and divine natures of the Lord were separate.

It was thus against the false teachings of Nestorius that this Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God is celebrated, reminding all of us not just that Mary is truly the Mother of God and not just the Mother of Jesus Christ, as Nestorius and his supporters contended, but also in our core belief that the Lord Jesus Christ, is not merely just Man, but also God in His nature and existence. If the same Jesus Christ that Mary had given birth in Bethlehem is not truly God, then we cannot call Mary as the Mother of God. Our Christian faith believes that Jesus Christ is truly God and truly Man, having two distinct but inseparable natures, Divine and Human. His Divine nature and Human nature are both united in the inseparable bond of perfect love, in the one Person of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Saviour of the whole world.

What might have made those people to refuse to believe in the Divine Motherhood of Mary was likely their inability to accept the fact and truth that Mary, as a woman, could have become the Mother of God. They must have contended in their hearts that it was impossible for a mere woman to be the Mother of the infinite and Almighty God. Yet, that was exactly what the Incarnation of the Lord was all about. What we celebrate at Christmas is the celebration of the Incarnation of the Divine Word of God, the Son, Who has assumed our humble human nature so that by His coming into this world, in His aspect as the Son of Man, He might unite all of us to Himself, gathering all of us together from being scattered all over the world, the lost sheep of the Lord’s flock, and gathering us as our Good Shepherd that we may find our way back to the Lord and His grace.

At the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea and the subsequent Ecumenical Council of Constantinople, the Arian heresy was outlawed and rejected, and a formal form of the Creed which we still use today, the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed was formulated. This stated that Jesus Christ is indeed Co-Equal and Co-Eternal with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, as a Triune God, One God with Three Persons of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, highlighting that the Saviour Jesus Christ born into this world and Who died for us on the Cross, was indeed God Incarnate in the flesh. Then, afterwards, in the important Ecumenical Council of Ephesus, the issue of the Divine Motherhood of God was discussed and addressed. Although Nestorius was then the powerful and influential Archbishop of Constantinople, the capital of the Roman Empire with a lot of support even from the highest positions in the Empire, but his heretical teachings were soundly rejected by those who adhered to the true and orthodox Christian faith.

The Ecumenical Council of Ephesus formalised the Dogma of the Divine Motherhood of God, affirming what the Church and the faithful people of God had believed since the earliest days of the Church, that Mary is truly the Mother of God, and that Jesus Christ is indeed God, appearing before us all as the manifestation of God’s perfect and ever enduring Love. The Love of God manifested in the person of Jesus Christ, and the love which His mother Mary showed to her Son, and also to all of us, her adopted children, are what we rejoice for on this most blessed day. On this day, as we begin this new solar calendar year, let us all reflect first of all, of the love that God has shown us, and also the love that makes this joyful Christmas season. Without God’s love, we had no reason to rejoice, especially not during this Christmas season.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we gather together today to celebrate in the new year and to rejoice at the glorious Divine Motherhood of God of Mary, Blessed Mother ever-Virgin, let us all hence spend some time to reflect on our way of life and actions, and what we plan to do for this coming year ahead of us. If we have been spending a lot of time the past year and also this Christmas season mostly on worldly things and matter, and in our pursuit of worldly glory, fame, achievements, then perhaps we should reconsider our path and direction in life. We should reconsider once again why we rejoice and celebrate in this season and time of celebration. We should think of why we rejoice and celebrate this new year too. Why do we celebrate? Is it because we enjoy in all the celebrations, revelries and merrymaking? Or is it because we look forward to the opportunities that the new year is going to provide us?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, no one can truly know how the future is going to unfold, and no one knows what will come our way, what opportunities are there for us. It is up to us nonetheless how we are going to live out our lives, whether we are going to walk in the path that the Lord has set before us and shown us, or whether we will rather walk in the path of worldliness and temptations, following the path of those false leaders and guides who had once misled so many among the faithful to the wrong paths. The choice is ours to make, brothers and sisters. How we are going to shape our year ahead is in our hands, and we have been given the free will to choose our course of actions. But we are reminded that should we choose to reject the path of the Lord and continue walking down the path of sin, the reckoning will likely be damnation and destruction for all of us.

As Christians, all of us have been shown good role models and examples for us to follow in our way of life that we may continue to walk down the right path towards God and His salvation. And there is no better example and guide than Mary herself, together with her Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. We are reminded of the love of God which has been shown to us in the most concrete way through Christ, through all that He had done for us, by suffering and dying for us all. He showed us all perfect obedience to the will of His heavenly Father and therefore becoming for us the example of righteousness and faith that we should all follow. Then, His own Mother Mary is also a great role model and example for us, in her unwavering love and faith in her Son, as she continued to care for Him throughout His earthly life, and as she has then showed us all the same love and care as well.

The Lord has entrusted His own Mother to us from His Cross, as He entrusted her to His trusted disciple St. John the Apostle. Similarly, He has also entrusted us all to her, that we all become her own children, to be loved and cared for by this same Mother of God, who has loved her Son so thoroughly. Can we follow our loving Mother in her ways and entrust ourselves to her and to her Son? Can we love the Lord more through His mother Mary, by ensuring that our lives and actions are truly worthy and appropriate of those who call ourselves as Christians? We are reminded again and again this Christmas season of what we are celebrating and what our Christian faith is all about, and hence, let us all begin our new year with the right mindset and spirit, and ensure that we conform ourselves once more to the Lord and His ways. And also, today being the World Day of Prayer for Peace, let us also pray for peace all around the world, particularly in Ukraine, where conflicts still rage on daily after almost a whole entire year, of senseless killings and destructions.

May the Lord continue to guide us and bless us in the year ahead, bless our world and all its peoples with peace and harmony, and with the guidance of His blessed Mother, Mary, the Holy Mother of God, let us all draw ever closer to Him and commit ourselves ever more wholeheartedly to Him, in all of our actions and lives. May God bless our works and efforts, our endeavours in this coming year, and may He bless all of us and our loved ones, at all times. Have a blessed New Year, brothers and sisters! Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Sunday, 25 December 2022 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Day Mass (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is the glorious and joyful Christmas Day, the day we have been awaiting for throughout the previous season of Advent, and what we have been hopefully preparing for well, all these while. Today as we rejoice together with the whole entire Universal Church, we are all again reminded of what and why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. What is it that we are celebrating in Christmas, brother and sisters? It is the joyful celebration of the birth of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and hence is why we call it as Christmas in the first place. And why do we celebrate it then? It is because we rejoice at the coming of Our Lord and Saviour, through Whom all of us have seen the salvation and glory of God, made manifest through His Son.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the Lord’s proclamation of joy and salvation for His people Israel, in which God proclaimed to them that He would restore the glory of His people and erase from them the shame of their forebears. Back then, the people of God had been suffering humiliations and sufferings one after another as they encountered various hardships and challenges, all of which were caused by their lack of faith and trust in God. Their disobedience and wickedness led to them being punished for their wrongdoings. But God did not despise them, as He still cared for them and loved them despite their constant disobedience and lack of faith. He showed them His love by sending them His salvation in the person of Jesus Christ, His own only begotten Son.

It is this same Jesus Christ mentioned in the beginning of the Gospel of St. John at our Gospel passage today, which in the past used to be the Last Gospel read at the end of every celebration of the Holy Mass, except on certain occasions. This reading being read on the Christmas Day must have been strange for some as unlike the other Gospel readings of the Christmas Masses, this one does not specifically mention about Jesus Christ and the account on His birth. Yet, if we read on more carefully, this Gospel passage is in fact a very important one as it highlighted to us the very importance and significance of why we even celebrate Christmas in the first place. If Christmas has been about the birth of just any other man, or any other persons, then it would not have the same significance or meaning to us.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, if Christmas is about any other man, just a mere prophet or ordinary man, then His birth would have been just like any other men, with no special significance unless to those who knew Him well like His family and friends. On the other hand, it was what St. John the Apostle mentioned in his Gospel passage that indicated to us and also reminded us that, the One Whom we celebrate at this Christmas festivities and joy, is none other than God Himself, Incarnate in the flesh, entering into our world and existence as Man, the Divine Word Incarnate, the Word that was made Flesh, the Son of God and Son of Man. The One born over two millennia ago in Bethlehem in Judea is indeed the Saviour promised by God, and not just that, but God Himself has come to our midst to dwell among us and to be with us always.

He is no longer distant and intangible for us. He is no longer the God of the Old Testament that seems to be far and mighty beyond any of us human beings to approach. Instead, He showed us all that His love has made us to be the sharers of His most generous love and kindness, as He reached out to us and come to touch us and our lives, to bring us our of the darkness and into the light. God has always wanted us to be reconciled to Him, and to forgive us our sins when we desire to commit ourselves to the path of righteousness and be forgiven from our many faults. Yet, it is often that we do not have enough faith in Him, and we end up continuing to disobey Him, and walking down the path of sin, that lead us more often than not to our downfall.

God has taken up our human existence and our human nature, by the Incarnation of the Divine Word, His own Word that has proclaimed the creation of the whole world because through this act of perfect love and self-giving, God may reunite us all to Himself. God has reached our to us by sending His own Son to help lead us to Himself, and to gather us all as our Shepherd, so that all of us the lost sheep of the Lord’s flock may be gathered all once again, and become God’s flock once more, reunited and reconciled with Him. He also sent us His herald, St. John the Baptist, to be the one to prepare His way for Him, that more and more people may come to be saved. This task has then on be passed through to the Church, and hence, the Church today still has the obligation to care for those who have been lost from God, to follow in the example of Christ our Lord, by Whose love we have been saved and seen the salvation of God.

In coming into this world, the Lord has done what others may think to be irrational and impossible. Even many of the people of God at the time of the Lord’s coming refused to believe in Him and this truth, and some accused Him of blasphemy when He revealed later on before them, how He was truly the Son of God and Son of Man both. It might seem irrational because throughout history, mankind had always aspired to be great and to be like God, with dictators and those who sought glory and power desiring others to honour, respect and even worship them. And many people sought to become like God, to be invincible and mighty, and to be free from their limitations, without avail, throughout the history of the world, from desiring to live longer and to extend their lives, to gain more power and might, and to become indeed like God, which they all could not do.

There is then only one God and One Who willingly embraced us and willingly humbled and lowered Himself, that He was made sharer of our human existence, that God Himself might come and dwell with us, and to be by our side. Again these might have seemed impossible for some, and as mentioned, some did doubt the Lord and refused to believe in Him. Yet, because God is Almighty and All-Powerful, surely something like that is within God’s power to do? We simply think that just because God is great and Almighty that He will definitely not want to lower and humble Himself in this manner, and yet, that was exactly what God had chosen to do, and all of that was because of His continued and persistent love for each one of us. He did all of these for our sake, and that is what Christmas is all about and why we rejoice because of that.

God made Himself small and vulnerable as a Child, and as a Man like us so that through Him, and His sharing of our human nature and existence, He may bring unto us the perfection of love and obedience as our loving Shepherd and Guide, showing us what it truly means to be a disciple and follower of the Lord. Christ could have come as a conquering King and Mighty One, just as many believed or thought that He would have, but He chose to come to us in this way, because He wants to be the Mediator between us and our Heavenly Father, God in Heaven, becoming the Bridge through His Cross, suffering, death and resurrection, that bring us back to the Father, and reestablish the Covenant between Him and us, which had once been broken by our disobedience and sins. He became Man so that by uniting our human nature to Himself, we may see and receive the fullness of redemption and glory, together with Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we enter into this glorious and joyful season of Christmas, are we willing and ready to commit ourselves anew to the Lord, Our God and Saviour? We are reminded this Christmas of the great Love of God made Man, and because He has made Himself approachable and His most generous love tangible and within our reach, all of us no longer wallow and suffer in the darkness and sin. We are reminded that God is and has always been with us, no matter whenever it is, and regardless of the highs and lows in our lives. The love of God personified and manifested in Christ is what we are celebrating this time and season of Christmas, and it is what we all need to focus and put emphasis on during this time of grace.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is important that this Christmas should be a reminder to all of us in living our lives that we may seek to become better Christians, and that we do not just be like nominal Christians, having faith in name only. How we celebrate Christmas is one of the way that this is reflected and shown. We can see just how easily we access the mostly secularised and hedonistic Christmas celebrations all around us are, and how even many among us Christians, we celebrate Christmas in the same way, with great excesses in pleasures, merrymaking and rejoicing, but one that is empty because Christ is not at the centre of all of our rejoicing and celebrations. Christ has often been forgotten and ignored at the celebration of His own birthday, and that is truly something that is sad at Christmas every year.

Many of us spent our Christmas busy in trying to outdo one another in celebrating our Christmas with parties and gift-exchanges, trying to have more of the celebratory moods and the feasting, focused primarily on indulging ourselves on the various goods and worldly excesses of the usual Christmas festivities. Many of us treat Christmas as a time of holiday and rejoicing, to gather back with our families and friends, and exchange various stories and experiences over good food and drink. Yet, again, we often ignored the Lord and did not leave Him any place in our hearts and minds, and leaving Him out of our Christmas rejoicing and merrymaking. It is not wrong to celebrate Christmas with great feasting and merrymaking, but we must not let those to distract us from the true meaning and purpose of Christmas.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore make good use of this time of Christmas to share the love of God which He has shown us to all of our fellow brethren, in becoming one like us and in dwelling with us, Incarnate in the flesh, by reaching out with love to all the people we meet and encounter, even to acquaintances and strangers. It is not a time to love ourselves and to immerse ourselves in our self-indulgence and excessive merrymaking. Instead, it should be a time for us to be more generous in the giving and sharing of our love and joy with others, especially with all those who are less fortunate and not capable of celebrating Christmas in the manner that we do. We should do our best to show others around us what Christmas truly means, and share whatever extra blessings and graces we have received, with those who have less or even none at all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter into this Christmas season, let us all continue to make good use of the time and opportunity in order to deepen our relationship with God, and to immerse ourselves in the celebration of God’s love and compassion, to return our focus and attention, and all of our Christmas celebrations and joy on Christ as the reason why we rejoice throughout this glorious and most joyful season. Let us draw ever closer to the Lord and His love, and let us all be ever more exemplary in how we live our lives from now on, and also in how we share the love of God with one another. May God bless us in our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Wishing all of us a most blessed and wonderful Christmas season for all of us and our loved ones. Amen.

Sunday, 25 December 2022 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Mass at Dawn (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this morning of the Christmas Day, as we gather together to rejoice in the memory of the glorious coming and appearance of Our Lord and Saviour in the flesh, we are all reminded to give thanks to God for everything that He had done for us, all the love, generosity and kindness that He has shown us. He has shown us His great love, manifested and made real in Jesus Christ, His Son, Who was born from His mother Mary, ever Virgin, and came into our midst as the Emmanuel, God Who is with us, His beloved people. God did not abandon us to the darkness and destruction, but He opened for us the path of His eternal light and salvation by the incarnation of His Son in the flesh, that through Him He might save us all from the certainty of death and eternal damnation.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah the words of the Lord proclaiming His salvation to His people, calling upon all of them to return to Him and to be faithful once again to Him, as He Who loves His people will always be with them, and they shall once again be great and blessed as God has always intended. Back then, the fortunes of God’s people, the Israelites have been at a very low point because they had faced a lot of opposition, and the entire northern half of the nation of the Israelites, named the northern kingdom of Israel, had been crushed and destroyed by the Assyrians, who went to destroy their nation and as well as exiling many of the people away from their ancestral homeland to distant lands, all because of their sins and wickedness. They had been humbled and humiliated, because earlier on their pride and ego had led to their rebellion against God, and their wickedness in refusing to listen to His words and commandments.

The people of God had often rebelled and disobeyed against the Lord, refusing to listen to His words and reminders, persecuting and rejecting the prophets and messengers sent to them to remind them. They hardened their hearts to His words, and as such, they had to face the consequences of their wickedness and evils, and thus faced those great humiliations and punishments due to their sins. But it did not mean that God despised them, as the truth is that, God despised the sins that they have committed and not the people themselves. It was their persistence to remain in the state of sin, and their many sins which had led them to be punished and to face the consequences of their sins. But God never gave up on them, and He has always reached out to them again and again, nudging them to return to Him and to be reconciled with Him.

That is exactly the hope and encouragement that God hoped to show His people, by sending His Son into this world to be in the midst of His people, calling on them to return from their wayward way of life and embracing His way of righteousness and grace once again. God has shown His most generous love to us by reaching out to us and showing us the path and hope out of the eternal darkness and from the chasm and precipice of eternal damnation, because He wants us all to be liberated and free from our bondage to our desires, pride, ego and sins. As the second reading today from the Epistle of St. Paul to St. Titus highlighted to us, that God sent us the Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to mark upon us the works of His mercy and love, to redeem us and draw us out of the darkness and into the light, to renew us and to strengthen us once again in His love.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the account od the birth of the Lord Jesus according to St. Luke, as the Holy Child was born in a small stable just outside Bethlehem, a Child born as predicted and prophesied by the prophets, from the Virgin. And the Lord announced the Good News to all the people through His Angels, who all sang in great joy, ‘Gloria in Excelsis Deo!’, ‘Glory to God in the Highest!’ to the shepherds who witnessed all of that in the wilderness of Bethlehem in Judea. God announced the joy of His coming to the world, as truly, the salvation long awaited by His people and by all those who sought Him has finally come into this world, in the form of the Child born on the manger in Bethlehem, that day, over two millennia ago, which we now celebrate as Christmas.

God made Himself small and vulnerable as a Child, and as a Man like us so that through Him, and His sharing of our human nature and existence, He may bring unto us the perfection of love and obedience as our loving Shepherd and Guide, showing us what it truly means to be a disciple and follower of the Lord. Christ could have come as a conquering King and Mighty One, just as many believed or thought that He would have, but He chose to come to us in this way, because He wants to be the Mediator between us and our Heavenly Father, God in Heaven, becoming the Bridge through His Cross, suffering, death and resurrection, that bring us back to the Father, and reestablish the Covenant between Him and us, which had once been broken by our disobedience and sins. He became Man so that by uniting our human nature to Himself, we may see and receive the fullness of redemption and glory, together with Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we enter into this glorious and joyful season of Christmas, are we willing and ready to commit ourselves anew to the Lord, Our God and Saviour? We are reminded this Christmas of the great Love of God made Man, and because He has made Himself approachable and His most generous love tangible and within our reach, all of us no longer wallow and suffer in the darkness and sin. We are reminded that God is and has always been with us, no matter whenever it is, and regardless of the highs and lows in our lives. The love of God personified and manifested in Christ is what we are celebrating this time and season of Christmas, and it is what we all need to focus and put emphasis on during this time of grace.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is important that this Christmas should be a reminder to all of us in living our lives that we may seek to become better Christians, and that we do not just be like nominal Christians, having faith in name only. How we celebrate Christmas is one of the way that this is reflected and shown. We can see just how easily we access the mostly secularised and hedonistic Christmas celebrations all around us are, and how even many among us Christians, we celebrate Christmas in the same way, with great excesses in pleasures, merrymaking and rejoicing, but one that is empty because Christ is not at the centre of all of our rejoicing and celebrations. Christ has often been forgotten and ignored at the celebration of His own birthday, and that is truly something that is sad at Christmas every year.

Many of us spent our Christmas busy in trying to outdo one another in celebrating our Christmas with parties and gift-exchanges, trying to have more of the celebratory moods and the feasting, focused primarily on indulging ourselves on the various goods and worldly excesses of the usual Christmas festivities. Many of us treat Christmas as a time of holiday and rejoicing, to gather back with our families and friends, and exchange various stories and experiences over good food and drink. Yet, again, we often ignored the Lord and did not leave Him any place in our hearts and minds, and leaving Him out of our Christmas rejoicing and merrymaking. It is not wrong to celebrate Christmas with great feasting and merrymaking, but we must not let those to distract us from the true meaning and purpose of Christmas.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore make good use of this time of Christmas to share the love of God which He has shown us to all of our fellow brethren, to all the people we meet and encounter, even to acquaintances and strangers. It is not a time to love ourselves and to immerse ourselves in our self-indulgence and excessive merrymaking. Instead, it should be a time for us to be more generous in the giving and sharing of our love and joy with others, especially with all those who are less fortunate and not capable of celebrating Christmas in the manner that we do. We should do our best to show others around us what Christmas truly means, and share whatever extra blessings and graces we have received, with those who have less or even none at all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter into this Christmas season, let us all continue to make good use of the time and opportunity in order to deepen our relationship with God, and to immerse ourselves in the celebration of God’s love and compassion, to return our focus and attention, and all of our Christmas celebrations and joy on Christ as the reason why we rejoice throughout this glorious and most joyful season. Let us draw ever closer to the Lord and His love, and let us all be ever more exemplary in how we live our lives from now on, and also in how we share the love of God with one another. May God bless us in our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Wishing all of us a most blessed and wonderful Christmas season for all of us and our loved ones. Amen.