Sunday, 26 June 2022 : Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday as we recall the words from the Sacred Scriptures that we have just heard today, we are all reminded that the primary mission of the Church has been and will always be that of evangelisation and mission. That is what all the faithful had been called to, as our primary objective, in proclaiming the Lord to all the people of all the nations, to everyone whom we encounter in life. Each and every one of us are called to be faithful and committed followers and disciples of the Lord, in dedicating our time, efforts and lives for the greater glory of God.

In our first reading this Sunday, we heard from the Book of Kings of Israel and Judah, the story of the calling of Elisha, the one whom God had chosen to be the successor of the prophet Elijah, the prophet who had worked and laboured for many years in the land of the northern kingdom of Israel. Elijah had worked hard to call the people who had disobeyed the Lord, fell into the path of sin and darkness, all those who had abandoned and betrayed the Lord, those who have worshipped the pagan idols and gods and persecuted those who remained faithful and all the prophets sent into their midst to remind them.

Elijah spent most of his years working alone amidst those who were hostile against him, and Elisha was called to be the one to succeed him, as Elijah’s time in this world was coming to an end. Elisha followed Elijah, and left behind his house, his family, and entrusting himself to the Lord wholeheartedly. Elisha embraced the calling that God had made to him, and henceforth, he became the prophet of God, the successor of Elijah. He answered God’s call with faith and he did what the Lord had asked him to do. That way, Elisha showed us all how each and every one of us ought to respond to God’s call, that is with faith and obedience.

In our second reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Galatia, St. Paul spoke of Christ our Lord Who has freed us from our bondage to sin, freeing us from the chains that have enslaved us from the beginning when we first fell into sin. Through Christ, His Son, God has brought upon us His salvation and the hope of eternal life, and delivered us from the precipice of death and destruction. The Lord has given us the sure means to eternal life and guaranteed us salvation, as long as we entrust ourselves to Him, and He also showed us the new path going forward, which we ought to follow in our journey towards Him.

And that was where St. Paul spoke about the way of the Spirit, which is distinct from the way of the flesh. St. Paul said that as Christians, as those who believe in the Lord, we must be truly faithful to Him and walk in the path that He has pointed out to us, versus the path that the world has shown us, which many of us are familiar with. As Christians, we are all called to embrace His calling to holiness, leaving behind the trap of sin, which had kept us down for so long. We are all challenged to rise up to our faith, and to live our lives virtuously according to the way of the Lord while resisting the pleasures of the flesh, the temptation of human pride and greed.

Then, lastly in our Gospel today, we heard of the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples and followers, telling them to follow Him wholeheartedly. He sent them out in pairs to go to places that He Himself was to visit to prepare the way for Him. There were those who received the disciples well and there were those who refused to listen to them, and when the disciples asked that those who rejected the Lord ought to be punished and destroyed, reminiscing of what happened with the ancient Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord rebuked the disciples for such suggestion, and moved on to the next village.

This tells us that the Lord is calling on each one of us to follow Him, to believe in His truth and to walk in His path, and He loves us even more than our trespasses and sins. Despite the stubbornness of those who refused to listen to the disciples at the time, the Lord did not want to punish them because ultimately, He knew that some of them may yet have the chance to be redeemed in the future, and He still left the path open for those people to walk, and to enter into His merciful care, should they choose to listen to Him and soften their hearts and unseal their minds from listening and paying attention to God.

And among those whom He had called, in that same Gospel passage the Lord seemed to be quite harsh when He told those who said that they had matters to settle and to handle before they were to follow Him, such as burying their parents first or saying goodbye first, and that those who turned their back on the kingdom of God has no place in it. First of all, we must not read into the Lord’s intention literally and without understanding the context, especially considering the additional intention of the writer of the Gospels, which in this case is St. Luke. In fact, the Lord’s intention in uttering such words is to convince us all that we cannot be divided in our attention or easily distracted in our path of following the Lord.

Otherwise, we will end up being easily pulled away from the right path, and we will end up dividing our attention and time, and then falling off that path that God had set before us, as what our ancestors and predecessors had experienced. The same people of Israel that the prophet Elijah and Elisha ministered to, did not have their heart fully focus and attuned towards the Lord, and as a result, they veered off the path and were easily tempted and swayed by worldly temptations, committing sins and vile things before God and man alike. The same thing can happen to us as well unless we actively strive to remain faithful in God and to do His will.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we recall and discern the messages that the Lord had presented to us in the Scriptures, we should remind ourselves that each and every one of us have been called by God to contribute our efforts and ourselves to the mission He has entrusted to us, that is in evangelisation to the whole world. Each one of us have been given different gifts, talents, abilities and opportunities so that hopefully each one of us can do what we can in our respective and often distinct situation and capacities, to glorify God by our lives and to bring His salvation to more and more people, all around us, and to whoever we encounter in life.

The message that the Lord wants us to receive and understand today is that each one of us can do our best wherever we are and in whatever we are doing. There are indeed some of us who are called like that of the prophet Elisha, to leave everything behind and to follow the Lord wholly and wholeheartedly. That was what our priests and religious had been called to, into their mission of serving the Lord and us, His people, the community of the faithful. But at the same time, we must not forget that the laity also have a massive impact on the works and efforts of the Church, and each one of us, especially the laity have the obligation and calling to fulfil, to be exemplary in faith in each and every one of our own way of life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore embrace wholeheartedly our respective calling in life, and for those of us who have not yet discovered what our calling in life is, let us all spend the time to discern well, and to pray for the Lord’s guidance, to be open-minded and welcoming to God’s calling, so that we may soon come to know what it is that we can do as God’s followers and disciples in our world and communities today. Let us all also pray for strength and perseverance so that we may be better able to resist the temptations to conform to the way of sinfulness and evil, and that we may be more committed to the path that God has shown us.

May the Lord continue to help us and guide us in our journey throughout life. May He empower each one of us to be His faithful disciples, filling up our hearts with His love and help us in our daily struggle against evil and sin. May God be with us always and bless our every good works, efforts and endeavours, all for His greater glory, now and always. Amen.

Sunday, 19 June 2022 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, also known as Corpus Christi, marking the commemoration of the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. Today we commemorate the Lord truly present in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, which we partake and consume during every celebration of the Holy Mass. As Christians, we all firmly believe that the Eucharist we partake and receive in the Holy Mass is none other than the Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord Himself.

Although the appearance of the bread and wine remains, but the mystery of our faith in what is known as Transubstantiation means that the bread and wine had actually, by the power of God, through the priests, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and the authority given to them by the Lord through His Church, become the very essence, reality and matter of the Lord’s own Body and Blood. We have faith that this is the truth, and what we truly eat and drink is the Lord Himself, Whose Body has been broken for us, and Whose Blood has been shed and poured down to us, to wash us clean and to bring us to salvation and eternal life.

In our first reading today, we heard the account of the encounter between Abraham, the father of the faithful and Melchizedek, the High Priest of Salem and the High Priest of God Most High. In that occasion, Abraham gave offering to God through Melchizedek, who then offered Abraham’s offering to God, as His High Priest. Melchizedek according to Church tradition had always been a rather mysterious figure, but one who was highly respected and regarded, and there were many theories and explanations that some tried to provide with regards to Melchizedek. Some said that Melchizedek prefigured Christ Himself, in His role as the High Priest, just as Melchizedek being a High Priest of God as well.

Regardless what it was, the link between Melchizedek and Christ established Christ as the High Priest of all mankind, Who offered the sacrifice and offering on our behalf, for the absolution of our many sins. And this is where He uniquely offered on our behalf, the perfect and worthy offering, of none other than His own Precious Body and Blood, the only offering that is worthy enough for the atonement and forgiveness of our sins. Hence, Our Lord offered His sacrificial offering both as the High Priest as well as the Paschal Lamb being sacrificed.

In our second reading today, from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, we heard the Apostle recounting to the faithful what happened at the night of the Last Supper, when the Lord Instituted the Holy Eucharist, by offering the bread and wine that He had blessed, and gave them to His disciples, saying clearly that the bread was truly His Body, broken and given to them, while the wine was truly His Blood, shed and poured on all the people, to all sinners, for the salvation of souls and for the forgiveness of sins. He instituted the Holy Eucharist to give us all the means by which we can be saved from the darkness of our sins.

At the Last Supper, the Lord began His offering as the New Passover and the New Covenant that He established with all of mankind. He offered His own Precious and Holy Body and Blood because in the past, the offering and sacrifice of even unblemished lamb was not sufficient for the absolution of the whole multitude of mankind’s many sins. At the original Passover in Egypt, which the Israelites henceforth commemorated every year, the Passover lamb was slain and then its blood used to mark the houses of the Israelites, that they might be rescued and freed from the slavery and suffering they endured in Egypt. Thus, in the New Passover that the Lord had brought with Him, He Himself, as the Paschal Lamb, and the High Priest, offer on our behalf, the sacrificial offering to redeem us and free us from the suffering and slavery to our sins.

But that sacrifice and offerings did not end at the Last Supper. On the contrary, everything that happened during the Passion of the Lord, His suffering and journey, the suffering and rejection He endured, and His Way of the Cross, culminating with His death and suffering on the Cross. It was at Good Friday that His sacrifice and offering was completed and made perfect, as He offered His own Body and Blood, the Divine Word Incarnate, as the perfect and unblemished offering that cleansed all the faithful from the taints of sin. Through the gift of the Holy Eucharist, the Lord has given us the assurance and guarantee of salvation and eternal life.

That is what the Lord also meant to do as highlighted in our Gospel passage today, as we heard from that the account of the miraculous feeding of the five thousand men with unknown thousands more of women and children with merely five bread and two fishes. He fed them all, and nourished them, giving them the strength to go on, as they were all hungry after following Him and listening to Him for His words and teachings. He then later on would tell them that He is the Bread of Life, the One Who had come into this world to bring life and nourish all of us, with the food that is His Body, and the drink that is His Blood, and as He said it Himself, all of us who share and partake in His Body and Blood shall never die and will have eternal life.

That is because when we eat His Body and drink His Blood, the Lord Himself has come to dwell within us, and He has made us into the Temple of His Holy Presence. As long as He remains in us and we remain in Him, we shall not be lost from Him, and we shall forever enjoy the glorious inheritance and true joy that can come from the Lord alone. The Lord has given His Body and Blood to us freely, and through this act of ultimate love and sacrifice, He has opened for us the gates of Heaven and the path to eternal life. This is what He has promised us and provided for us, and yet, many of us still do not have the firm faith in His providence and love.

Many of us still do not show that we truly believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist. We may profess our faith in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, but from the way we behave and respond to the Eucharist more often than not showed just how little we appreciate the Lord’s Real Presence in the Eucharist, and how little the faith and love that we have in Him. We treated the Lord with indifference and even contempt, in the manner how we receive the Holy Eucharist, in our lack of respect for the Holy Mass and the important tenets of our Christian faith, and in not living our lives in accordance to what we have been expected as Christians.

Today, each and every one of us are reminded that we have been so fortunate that the Lord, our most loving Father, Creator and Master, have been so kind, patient and compassionate towards us that He has given us all His Son, to be Our Lord and Saviour, and by Whose sacrifice, both as our High Priest and Paschal Lamb, He has brought unto us the assurance and guarantee of salvation and eternal life, by giving us His own Body and His own Blood, for us to partake, that He may dwell in us, and that we may always be together with Him.

Let us remind ourselves that we are in the Holy Presence of God, that the Lord Himself has dwelled amongst us, and within us. Let us remind ourselves that we have to be worthy of Him, and strive to be better Christians for now on, in honouring and loving the most loving and perfect sacrifice that He has shown us, in bringing about our salvation. Let us all deepen our faith from now on, in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, that what we receive in the Holy Eucharist, is truly real Body and the real Blood of Our Lord, and not just merely bread and wine, or just merely a symbol.

And we have to begin that from ourselves. We have to give due reverence and honour to the Holy Eucharist, in the manner we receive it, such that we ensure that we are in a proper disposition and state of grace, just as St. Paul said that it would be harmful for Christians who are not in the state of grace to partake of the Holy Eucharist. We have to keep in mind that our every actions and deeds reflect our faith and what we believe in, and how can we expect others to believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, Transubstantiation and that the Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood of the Lord is truly present in the Eucharist, at every celebration of the Holy Mass, if we ourselves have not wholeheartedly believed in it and showed that we truly believe?

May the Lord, Who has given us His own Precious Body and Blood, for our salvation, continue to love us and may He strengthen each and every one of us by His grace and love. May all of us draw ever closer to the Lord and His saving grace, with each and every moments of our lives. May God bless us all and be with all of our works, efforts and good endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Sunday, 19 June 2022 : Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all called to seek the Lord, in Whom alone lies our salvation and hope. Through the Lord alone we will gain an eternity of happiness and true joy, and the true satisfaction for our lives. The Lord has come into our midst to bring us His help and reassurance, delivering all of us from our troubles and trials. This is the message that the Scripture passages today has presented to us, reminding us to keep our faith in the Lord and to bear our crosses in life together with God, with faith and joy.

In our first reading today, we heard of the words from the prophet Zechariah, who began his ministry in the years following the return of the exiled Israelites from the lands of Babylon and other distant lands back to their lands, during the early years of the Persian Empire. The prophet Zechariah prophesied and spoke of the coming of the salvation of God, that will come through the One Whom He would send into this world, the Saviour and Deliverer Who would restore the people and reconcile them fully to God, after they had been separated from Him, punished and humiliated because of all their disobedience and sins.

The prophet Zechariah spoke prophetically about the One Whom the people would pierce, and how the sorrowful mourning for Him would truly be great, and how on that very day, the Lord would spring forth His salvation and grace to all of His people. And all of that were clear references and prophetic revelation about what the God Himself would do through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Surely we are all familiar with how the Lord Jesus suffered, rejected by the people, betrayed and abandoned by His disciples, and then put to bear the burden of the Cross, which He then carried obediently to Calvary, where He died for each and every one of us, pierced in His hands, feet and side, by our sins and our transgressions.

The prophet Zechariah was obviously not speaking about the liberation that had by that time come upon the people of God, who had been rescued by the decree and action of the King of Persia, Cyrus the Great, years prior to Zechariah’s own ministry. Instead, Zechariah was speaking about the coming of the Lord, the Messiah or Saviour Whom God has promised to His people. It was by the actions carried out by the Lord Jesus that the salvation, light and hope from God has come into our midst, revealing to us that sin and death do not have the final say over us. Through Him, we have seen the path to our salvation and eternal life.

If only that more of us can believe in the Lord wholeheartedly and trust in His providence and love, then many more people would have come to believe in God and be well on their way to His salvation and grace. Unfortunately, many among us are still unable to entrust ourselves to Him, because of various reasons, but most commonly is because we do not yet know Him well enough. The Lord has revealed Himself to His disciples and in our Gospel today, He asked them who they thought He was. And the disciples frankly told Him that others said that He was one of the Prophets or Elijah himself returning from Heaven, but St. Peter told the Lord right away that he believed in Him as the Holy One of God, the Messiah.

It is that kind of faith that we ought to have, brothers and sisters in Christ, considering just how much God had gone through in His efforts to reach out to us and to love us, despite us all being sinners and having disobeyed Him time and time again. Despite our mistakes and transgressions, the Lord kept on patiently reaching out to us and loving us, because each and every one of us are truly precious to Him, and as St. Paul mentioned in our second reading today, in his Epistle to the Galatians, there are no distinctions between Jews or Greeks, or anyone based on their birth or by any other categories or divisions. Each and every children of God are equally beloved and cared for by Him.

And so great is that love, that as mentioned, He willingly took up His Cross and endured the whole burden of its weight, for our sake. The whole weight of the Cross is not just the physical weight of the wood of the Cross, but even heavier is the combined weight and burden of our innumerable sins, of all mankind past, present and future. Every single man that had existed, exists now which includes all of us, and will exist in the future, all of their sins and the consequences and punishments had been borne by Christ, Who offered Himself on the Cross for our sake, that all of us may be saved through Him, through our faith and trust in Him.

The Lord has generously reached out to us out of His enduring and everlasting love. But do we also reciprocate His love as well? Do we show Him the same love and devotion, the same commitment and love that we should have shown Him? We have been reminded of how great the love that God has shown us, and now, we are all challenged and called to love God and trust Him more, to be His faithful witnesses and courageous disciples, in proclaiming His truth and hope to all the whole world, to our respective communities today. That is our Christian calling and mission, and we must not forget about that, and we have to embrace that wholeheartedly as well.

May the Lord, our loving God, Father and Creator be with us always, and may He continue to strengthen us in our faith, so that in everything we say and do, in our every actions in life, we may always glorify the Lord and be exemplary in all things, inspiring many more people to come to believe in God as well. Let us all renew our faith and commitment to the Lord, and let us do our best to live our lives as missionary disciples of Christ, at every opportunities available to us. May God bless our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 16 June 2022 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, also known as Corpus Christi, marking the commemoration of the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. Today we commemorate the Lord truly present in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, which we partake and consume during every celebration of the Holy Mass. As Christians, we all firmly believe that the Eucharist we partake and receive in the Holy Mass is none other than the Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord Himself.

Although the appearance of the bread and wine remains, but the mystery of our faith in what is known as Transubstantiation means that the bread and wine had actually, by the power of God, through the priests, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and the authority given to them by the Lord through His Church, become the very essence, reality and matter of the Lord’s own Body and Blood. We have faith that this is the truth, and what we truly eat and drink is the Lord Himself, Whose Body has been broken for us, and Whose Blood has been shed and poured down to us, to wash us clean and to bring us to salvation and eternal life.

In our first reading today, we heard the account of the encounter between Abraham, the father of the faithful and Melchizedek, the High Priest of Salem and the High Priest of God Most High. In that occasion, Abraham gave offering to God through Melchizedek, who then offered Abraham’s offering to God, as His High Priest. Melchizedek according to Church tradition had always been a rather mysterious figure, but one who was highly respected and regarded, and there were many theories and explanations that some tried to provide with regards to Melchizedek. Some said that Melchizedek prefigured Christ Himself, in His role as the High Priest, just as Melchizedek being a High Priest of God as well.

Regardless what it was, the link between Melchizedek and Christ established Christ as the High Priest of all mankind, Who offered the sacrifice and offering on our behalf, for the absolution of our many sins. And this is where He uniquely offered on our behalf, the perfect and worthy offering, of none other than His own Precious Body and Blood, the only offering that is worthy enough for the atonement and forgiveness of our sins. Hence, Our Lord offered His sacrificial offering both as the High Priest as well as the Paschal Lamb being sacrificed.

In our second reading today, from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, we heard the Apostle recounting to the faithful what happened at the night of the Last Supper, when the Lord Instituted the Holy Eucharist, by offering the bread and wine that He had blessed, and gave them to His disciples, saying clearly that the bread was truly His Body, broken and given to them, while the wine was truly His Blood, shed and poured on all the people, to all sinners, for the salvation of souls and for the forgiveness of sins. He instituted the Holy Eucharist to give us all the means by which we can be saved from the darkness of our sins.

At the Last Supper, the Lord began His offering as the New Passover and the New Covenant that He established with all of mankind. He offered His own Precious and Holy Body and Blood because in the past, the offering and sacrifice of even unblemished lamb was not sufficient for the absolution of the whole multitude of mankind’s many sins. At the original Passover in Egypt, which the Israelites henceforth commemorated every year, the Passover lamb was slain and then its blood used to mark the houses of the Israelites, that they might be rescued and freed from the slavery and suffering they endured in Egypt. Thus, in the New Passover that the Lord had brought with Him, He Himself, as the Paschal Lamb, and the High Priest, offer on our behalf, the sacrificial offering to redeem us and free us from the suffering and slavery to our sins.

But that sacrifice and offerings did not end at the Last Supper. On the contrary, everything that happened during the Passion of the Lord, His suffering and journey, the suffering and rejection He endured, and His Way of the Cross, culminating with His death and suffering on the Cross. It was at Good Friday that His sacrifice and offering was completed and made perfect, as He offered His own Body and Blood, the Divine Word Incarnate, as the perfect and unblemished offering that cleansed all the faithful from the taints of sin. Through the gift of the Holy Eucharist, the Lord has given us the assurance and guarantee of salvation and eternal life.

That is what the Lord also meant to do as highlighted in our Gospel passage today, as we heard from that the account of the miraculous feeding of the five thousand men with unknown thousands more of women and children with merely five bread and two fishes. He fed them all, and nourished them, giving them the strength to go on, as they were all hungry after following Him and listening to Him for His words and teachings. He then later on would tell them that He is the Bread of Life, the One Who had come into this world to bring life and nourish all of us, with the food that is His Body, and the drink that is His Blood, and as He said it Himself, all of us who share and partake in His Body and Blood shall never die and will have eternal life.

That is because when we eat His Body and drink His Blood, the Lord Himself has come to dwell within us, and He has made us into the Temple of His Holy Presence. As long as He remains in us and we remain in Him, we shall not be lost from Him, and we shall forever enjoy the glorious inheritance and true joy that can come from the Lord alone. The Lord has given His Body and Blood to us freely, and through this act of ultimate love and sacrifice, He has opened for us the gates of Heaven and the path to eternal life. This is what He has promised us and provided for us, and yet, many of us still do not have the firm faith in His providence and love.

Many of us still do not show that we truly believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist. We may profess our faith in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, but from the way we behave and respond to the Eucharist more often than not showed just how little we appreciate the Lord’s Real Presence in the Eucharist, and how little the faith and love that we have in Him. We treated the Lord with indifference and even contempt, in the manner how we receive the Holy Eucharist, in our lack of respect for the Holy Mass and the important tenets of our Christian faith, and in not living our lives in accordance to what we have been expected as Christians.

Today, each and every one of us are reminded that we have been so fortunate that the Lord, our most loving Father, Creator and Master, have been so kind, patient and compassionate towards us that He has given us all His Son, to be Our Lord and Saviour, and by Whose sacrifice, both as our High Priest and Paschal Lamb, He has brought unto us the assurance and guarantee of salvation and eternal life, by giving us His own Body and His own Blood, for us to partake, that He may dwell in us, and that we may always be together with Him.

Let us remind ourselves that we are in the Holy Presence of God, that the Lord Himself has dwelled amongst us, and within us. Let us remind ourselves that we have to be worthy of Him, and strive to be better Christians for now on, in honouring and loving the most loving and perfect sacrifice that He has shown us, in bringing about our salvation. Let us all deepen our faith from now on, in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, that what we receive in the Holy Eucharist, is truly real Body and the real Blood of Our Lord, and not just merely bread and wine, or just merely a symbol.

And we have to begin that from ourselves. We have to give due reverence and honour to the Holy Eucharist, in the manner we receive it, such that we ensure that we are in a proper disposition and state of grace, just as St. Paul said that it would be harmful for Christians who are not in the state of grace to partake of the Holy Eucharist. We have to keep in mind that our every actions and deeds reflect our faith and what we believe in, and how can we expect others to believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, Transubstantiation and that the Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood of the Lord is truly present in the Eucharist, at every celebration of the Holy Mass, if we ourselves have not wholeheartedly believed in it and showed that we truly believe?

May the Lord, Who has given us His own Precious Body and Blood, for our salvation, continue to love us and may He strengthen each and every one of us by His grace and love. May all of us draw ever closer to the Lord and His saving grace, with each and every moments of our lives. May God bless us all and be with all of our works, efforts and good endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Sunday, 12 June 2022 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we celebrate the occasion of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, celebrating the Most Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the core of our Christian belief in one God Who exists in Three Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This belief in God Who is Three but also One at the same time is what made us unique among other monotheistic beliefs out there, and the one that we all held to be the only Universal truth above all else. For we all believe that God, our Supreme Lord and Master, the Creator of all things and the whole entire universe, of all existence and time, is this Most Holy Trinity, the Triune God.

The belief in the Most Holy Trinity had always been kept and upheld. Since the earliest days of the Church, the Christian faithful had believed in the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and while there were differences in how the Holy Trinity was perceived by the faithful, but in general most of them believed in the presence of three distinct Persons and identities in the One God. This belief was also Scriptural in basis and also based on the teachings and traditions of the Apostles and the Church fathers who all received their truth and knowledge not just from the Lord Himself but also through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The most obvious passage is the Lord’s great commission to all His disciples, to go forth to the nations and to baptise all in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

This belief in the Holy Trinity is truly crucial and important as part of our Christian identity and faith, as we define our faith within the context of this belief in the Holy Trinity. And in order to understand our Christian faith fully we have to go and understand the nature of the Holy Trinity more fully. Many Christians unfortunately do not truly understand and appreciate the importance of Holy Trinity of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and quite often we may even see and hear those who had wrong and mistaken idea on what the Holy Trinity is truly all about. There are those among us who think that we really worship three different Gods, something that those who do not have the Christian faith also commonly misunderstood about. There were those who criticised Christians simply because they thought that we worship more than one God, misunderstanding the nature of the Holy Trinity.

Then, on the other extreme, we also have those who misunderstood how the Holy Trinity works, in that they think of God as a single God without different Persons, those who claimed to be Unitarian in faith as opposed to our Trinitarian faith. Those who are holding such thoughts and ideas are also quite varied in their thoughts with some of them rejecting that Jesus Christ is God, thinking that He is merely a created Being, a Prophet and not the Son of God, contrary to what our Christian faith and the Apostolic tradition through the Church have revealed to us. As mentioned, since the earliest days of the Church, the teachings of the Church, the Apostolic traditions passed down through the Church have always affirmed the Trinitarian God as the One and only True God, the One and only Saviour of the whole world, the same Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Proverbs, we heard the words relating to the moment of Creation, by the author of the Book of Proverbs, which was King Solomon of Israel according to historical evidence and tradition. In that account about Creation, we heard of the peculiar and interesting words regarding a Being that was created by God, Who was already existent when everything was created and formed, the formation and creation of the entire world and the universe. This was in fact an allusion to the presence of the Holy Trinity in Creation, as we can see from the Book of Genesis, of its first chapter when the author of the Book of Genesis described how the whole world and universe was created by God.

At the moment of Creation, if we go back to the Book of Genesis, we can see how the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit was present all in one, taking part in the work of Creation, as the one and only True God, Who knows all, has dominion and power over all, and oversees all of the entire Creation. God the Father willed Creation into being, and by His words, the Word of God, He willed all of Creation into existence, with the words like, ‘Let there be Light’, ‘Let there be a vault between the waters, to separate the water above the Heavens from the water below it.’, ‘Let the water be filled with living creatures, and let the skies be filled with birds that fly above the earth in the vault of the sky.’ among others, all of which heralded the Creation of the world.

The Book of Genesis began with the account of what happened before the moment of Creation. Back then, there was complete nothingness, and the whole entire universe had not been created yet. The Lord our God existed before time and existence itself, and He is not bound to time and existence. God surpasses time and space, and as mentioned in the Book of Genesis, the Spirit of God was floating and going around and about all things, this Spirit of God refers to the Holy Spirit. How about the Son then? The Son is the Word of God, through Whom the Father created all things, and the Persona mentioned in the first reading today from the Book of Proverbs in fact refers to the Son, as we see things from His perspective.

The Son of God is begotten from the Father, before time and existence, and He is Co-Eternal and Co-Equal with the Father. Since He existed with the Father from even before the beginning of time, He is of the same Essence, same Nature and essentially same as the Father, as part of this Holy Trinity of Godhood. The Church teaches that the same Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Incarnate in the flesh as the Son of Man, is this same Son, Co-Eternal and Co-Equal with the Father. While His humanity was given form only at the moment of the Incarnation after the Annunciation of Mary, His mother, but His divinity has existed from before all ages, just as the Father and the Holy Spirit are also Co-Eternal and Co-Equal.

The Holy Spirit meanwhile according to the Creed, proceeds from the Father to us and the world, and He does so through the Son, as is written and mentioned in our Creed, that the Holy Spirit, the Lord of life, proceeding from the Father and the Son, and with the Father and the Son, He is adored and glorified. This procession of the Holy Spirit must be understood in the context that it does not imply that the Holy Spirit is inferior or subservient to the Father and/or the Son. Rather, the Holy Spirit is also Co-Equal and Co-Eternal to the Father and the Son, existing before time and creation, and existing in perfect equality to the Father and the Son. Rather, the Holy Spirit naturally comes into this world and to us, by the will of the Father, and hence flowing from Him, and through the Son, through Whom, the Father’s will was made manifest to this world.

Now, I hope that through what we have discussed, all these can help us to better understand the nature of the Most Holy Trinity, the Triune God that we believe in. This is important because if we ourselves do not understand the nature of the Most Holy Trinity or even attempt to learn more about this core and most important tenet of our faith, then how can we expect others to believe in the Lord when the Lord calls us to be His witnesses and missionaries in our communities today? If others asked and even challenged us on our belief in the Most Holy Trinity among other tenets of our faith, because they did not know what they meant, or had the wrong impression or understanding, then are we able to respond confidently and share with them the truth of God as accurately as possible?

We do not have to worry if we cannot comprehend or understand the whole mystery of the Most Holy Trinity of our One God in Three Persons. Even many of the greatest saints and Church fathers struggled to understand the whole meaning and nature of the Most Holy Trinity, and it remains a mystery for all of us as well. It took the Church and the whole assembly of the faithful, and several Ecumenical Councils before the teachings and tenets regarding the Most Holy Trinity were formulated and standardised. And even so, if we were to study the history of the Church, there were numerous heresies and false teachings that disputed this truth that we have for the Holy Trinity, as I mentioned earlier.

And in one occasion, the famous St. Augustine of Hippo, the great Doctor of the Church according to tradition also received a vision as he walked by the seashore, reflecting and being intrigued with the nature of the Holy Trinity, and he saw the vision of a young boy who was trying to empty the entire ocean into a small hole in the sand, and when the saint asked the boy, who according to explanations, was in fact God in disguise, He explained that just as it is impossible to pour the entirety of the ocean into the small hole in the sand, hence, it is impossible for us in our limited intellect and ability to understand, to comprehend the entirety of the mystery of the Holy Trinity. We do not need to worry, but instead we should let the Lord to guide us and teach us His Wisdom and truth, and hold firmly to the true teachings of the Church and our faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Trinity Sunday, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, let us all renew our commitment to the Lord, our Triune God, He Who is One and yet existing in the perfect harmony of Three Divine Persons. Let us all ask the Father to bless us all and continue to love each and every one of us at all times, and the Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ to be with us through our journeys of faith in life, inspiring us with His obedience to His Father and His loving sacrifice on His Cross, and the Holy Spirit, for the guidance and the strength, the courage and power to carry out our mission of evangelisation in our world and communities today with faith. May the Lord, the Most Holy Trinity, be with us always, and bless us in our every good works and endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 5 June 2022 : Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday is the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday marking the fiftieth and the last day of the entire glorious and joyous season of Easter. The celebration of the Pentecost had its roots in the Jewish custom, in which fifty days after the celebration of the Jewish Passover, the Festival of the Pentecost is celebrated, and hence, a lot of people were assembled in Jerusalem for that occasion, coming from different countries, likely both the Jewish people and diaspora who lived in those places as well as some others who were attracted to the celebrations that were happening in Jerusalem.

In our first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles we heard the account of how on the Festival of the Pentecost, fifty days after Our Lord’s glorious Resurrection, the Holy Spirit came down upon all the disciples who were assembled and in hiding from the Jewish authorities, Mary, the Twelve Apostles and the other disciples who were there in the same room and place. The Holy Spirit came down like tongues of fire, resting on each of the disciples and gave them all the strength, courage and power to proclaim the Lord and His truth to all the people they encountered, beginning with those who came to Jerusalem for the festival of Pentecost.

This is a fulfilment of what the Lord has always promised His followers, that He would send them the Holy Spirit, the Helper and Advocate Who would strengthen them and give them the courage and power to do the will of God and to carry on what He had entrusted to them to do in this world. When He ascended into Heaven, the Lord promised that the Holy Spirit would come and help His disciples, and that they ought to wait in Jerusalem and pray. True enough then, that about ten days after the Lord ascended into Heaven, on the Pentecost celebrations, the Holy Spirit came down on the disciples.

Pentecost Sunday does not only mark the fiftieth day of Easter and the final day of that joyous season. It is also according to tradition, the ‘birthday of the Church’ as it was on that day that the Church became tangible, visible and apparent to the world. Before that moment, the disciples were all hiding in fear but afterwards, they courageously went forth and proclaimed the Word of God to the masses without fear anymore. That was the moment when the Church began its mission of evangelisation, reaching out to the world, to more and more people so that more may come to know the Lord and be saved through finding out the truth.

Pentecost is the day when the Church of God began its ministry to the world, when the Body of Christ, that is the Church, became visible to all and began calling on all to turn towards the Lord and to believe in Him as their Lord and Saviour. This is all possible because of the wisdom and strength bestowed on the Apostles through the Holy Spirit. Before that, the disciples were all lacking confidence and the drive to do the mission they have been entrusted with, and many among them were also illiterate and uneducated, hence explaining even more why they were hesitant to make themselves shown prior to the Pentecost.

The Holy Spirit gave them all the gifts of wisdom and knowledge, of faith and hope, of strength and courage, allowing them to do everything that we now know as the amazing things that the Apostles and the saints had done, only some of which were recorded in the Acts of the Apostles and the rest of the New Testament. Through the Holy Spirit, the Lord guided His faithful disciples who embarked on the journey of faith to proclaim His truth to the nations, to the many people they visited and lived with, and they spoke of the Lord and His love openly and without fear, guided by the strength, wisdom and passion that came from the Holy Spirit inflaming their hearts and minds.

They all went to proclaim the truth of the Lord, revealing the generous love which God has shown us, and they lived according to the Lord’s commandments of love, as mentioned in our Gospel passage today. They loved the Lord most wholeheartedly and at the same time, they also showed the same love towards their fellow brothers and sisters, to all man equally and without discrimination, be it Jews, Greeks, Romans, Persians or any other people. They loved them all as fellow children of God, and it was this love, together with the wisdom that God has shown them through the Holy Spirit, which made the Christian faith so popular among the people, and many decided to believe in God.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, we must realise that the works of the Church and the Lord have not yet been completed but instead are still ongoing this very moment. There are still a lot of areas and opportunities for the Church and the faithful to reach out to those who have not yet known the Lord and to all those who have lapsed in their faith. There are still many parts of the world and many communities who have lived in ignorance of the Lord’s truth, and it is we as Christians who have the responsibility and calling to bear the truth of God, His love and hope, His compassion and mercy, His path and light to those who have not yet known Him.

We are all called as Christians to continue the great and wonderful works that our predecessors, the Apostles, the innumerable saints and martyrs, and many others who had faithfully obeyed the Lord’s commandments and laws, following His will and doing His good works in this world. Through baptism all of us have become part of the Church and received the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that the Apostles and disciples of the Lord had received. And many of us have also received the Sacrament of Confirmation, in which after period of preparation and prayer, we have been affirmed in faith and received a more complete gift of the Holy Spirit.

What are these gifts of the Holy Spirit, brothers and sisters in Christ? The Church teaches us that there are seven gifts of the Holy Spirits. Those gifts are the gifts of Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord. Each of these gifts are related to the seven Virtues of our Christian faith, namely Charity or Love, Faith, Prudence, Courage, Hope, Justice and Temperance. All these gifts have been given to us, to strengthen us and to help us in how we live our lives, so that each and every one of us can become great role models and inspirations for one another, to encourage and help each other on our way to the Lord and His salvation.

Through Wisdom and Understanding we have all been given the clarity and ability to appreciate the depth of the truth of God, the knowledge of God’s love and His laws, His commandments and ways, understanding the ways of the Church and its practices, and how to explain it to others, and to discern carefully the path that we are to choose in life. While through Counsel and Fortitude, we are brought to the ability to resist the temptations to sin, the ability to consider carefully what each of our actions will lead us to, and how to stand up for things that are right, in defending our faith and the actions that are just against the wickedness of this world, against the temptations to sin.

The gift of Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord then allows us to know more about God and to get ourselves closer to Him, allowing us to love Him ever deeper and more, desiring to be ever closer to Him, and by knowing more of the great infinity and boundlessness of God’s Almighty power and majesty, we may grow to fear Him more, not because we are afraid of Him, but because we know well what it means for us to reject and abandon Him and His path, falling into the depth of sin and eventually hell, out of which there is no escape and no hope of salvation. Hence, we will strive to get ever closer to God and avoid doing things that are against God and His will.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have received those wonderful gifts from God through the Holy Spirit, as well as other abilities, talents and opportunities that are distinct for each and every one of us. However, if we do not open our hearts and minds, and embracing those gifts and talents, opportunities and all presented to us by the Lord, then all those gifts would have been naught and useless for us. We have to embrace the Lord and His gifts for us, the Holy Spirit and all of His blessings and do our best to make use of them for the purpose that He has revealed to us. Otherwise, we are not doing what the Lord has commanded us to do, to be the disciples that go forth to the world, to proclaim His truth before all mankind and calling them all to His presence.

Today, this Pentecost Sunday, as we celebrate this joyous celebration of the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Church of God, and the birthday and beginning of the Church, let us all discern carefully our respective calling in life. Are we all doing what we can in answering God’s call, His call for us to make good use of the talents, gifts, abilities and opportunities that He had provided to us? Each one of us as Christians have been given different sets of skills, talents, gifts and blessings, and have various vocations and calling in life. Are we willing to do what we can, within our means and within the capacity that God has provided us, to do His will and to live our lives virtuously and faithfully as good and devoted Christians?

Let us all hence commit ourselves anew to the Lord this day, and remind ourselves that Pentecost is not there to mark the end of the season of Easter. On the contrary, on this day we celebrate the Descent of the Holy Spirit, we remind ourselves that the Church’s primary mission is to evangelise and spread the Word of God, His truth and love to the whole world, and the best way for us to do this, is by living our lives virtuously as exemplary and good Christians, as otherwise how can we expect others to believe in us if we ourselves do not act and live our lives in the manner that we tell others to live theirs?

May the Lord continue to bless us and guide us, and may each and every one of us continue to walk faithfully in God’s path at all times. May the Holy Spirit continue to guide us and strengthen us, now and always. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of all Christians who are faithful and committed to God, and enkindle in the fire of Your love. Come Holy Spirit, and renew the face of this Earth, purge hatred and evil from this world, and allow us Christians to strive to love one another and advance the cause of peace and harmony between all the children of God. Come Holy Spirit, and be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 4 June 2022 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday beginning with the celebration of this Vigil Mass of the Pentecost. On this Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday we celebrate the coming and descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of the Lord, fifty days after the Lord’s glorious Resurrection and ten days after His Ascension into Heaven. That is why we call this celebration as the Pentecost, as Pentecost itself has the meaning of ‘fifty’, a celebration that has roots in the Jewish law and traditions, of the Pentecost festival fifty days after the Passover which was why there were a lot of people assembled in Jerusalem at the time when the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles.

And as we listened to the readings from the Scripture, one of the first readings from the Book of Exodus related the moment the first Covenant God made with the people of Israel at Mount Sinai, the mountain of God after they have left Egypt behind and was freed from their slavery. According to tradition, this happened about fifty days after the time of the Exodus, which the Passover commemorated every year, the moment the Israelites were saved from their slavery and passed from Egypt safely through the Red Sea, while the forces and armies of the Egyptians were crushed and destroyed by the raging waves as they tried to pursue the Israelites.

The Passover itself has been made complete and renewed with the true Passover made by Christ Himself, that He, as the Lamb of God, offered Himself for our sake so that by His death, on the Cross, and the outpouring of His Blood, that brought salvation to all of us, while by passing through the waters of baptism, made holy and sanctified by His power and grace, like the Israelites of old passing through the Red Sea, all of us as Christians have passed through death to our old way of life, washed and cleansed away, freed from the slavery to our sins and evils, and beginning the journey towards our ‘Promised Land’, which is Heaven, to be with God forevermore.

Hence, based on what I mentioned earlier, we can see a very clear parallel and link between the old and new Passover, the death and Resurrection of Christ our Lord with the freedom of the Israelites from the Egyptians, and this is exactly how all of us who believe in the Lord and has been baptised, received into the Church, pass through the domains of sin and death, freed from their dominion and through Christ, enter this journey of a new life in which we are all called to a new existence, just as the newly freed Israelites were journeying towards the Promised Land of Canaan. The Lord made a New Covenant with us through His Son, just as He had made a Covenant with the Israelites back then. This time, it is not just the Israelites that were His chosen people, but all of mankind, those willing to answer and embrace His call.

Now, back to the moment the Covenant was made with the Israelites at Mount Sinai, there were also parallel between what happened there and what happened at the Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came down on the disciples of the Lord. At the time of the old Covenant, God gave His Law to His people through Moses, written as the Ten Commandments carved on two slabs of stone, and also other laws unwritten but passed through God’s wisdom to Moses, and from Him to the people of God. At the New Covenant, at Pentecost, God gave His faithful ones, the wisdom to understand His Law which He has revealed and brought into our midst through His Son, Jesus Christ, Who Himself is the embodiment of the Law.

The Holy Spirit came down upon the disciples just as the Lord had promised to them, to be their strength and guidance, to inspire them and to grant them the wisdom and understanding to proclaim His truth and salvation to the whole world. God’s works of saving His people, all of mankind began at that moment, as the Apostles and disciples were previously very afraid to leave their dwelling place, always constantly in hiding after the Lord’s Passion and death, as the Jewish authorities were strictly forbidding anyone from teaching and preaching in the Name of Jesus, openly opposing and persecuting those who were doing so.

But as the Holy Spirit came into them, the disciples gained great courage, strength and wisdom, and all of them went forth out from their hiding place, proclaiming Christ to all the assembled people in Jerusalem, who could all understand what they said even though they came from various places. That was the gift of tongues and language that the Holy Spirit granted to the disciples, a symbolic reversal of what happened if we read the story of the Tower of Babel in the Book of Genesis, where in yet another one of our possible first readings today, last time used to be all read for the Pentecost, mankind who used to speak the same language were punished and confused in their language and speech because of their pride, disobedience and sins, in trying to upstage God by building the Tower of Babel pointing towards Heaven itself.

Through what we have heard, God is calling all of us sinners back to Himself, wanting each and every one of us to be reconciled to Him. He loves us very dearly and does not want any one of us to be lost to Him. Our disobedience has led us to sin, and sin sundered us from God, separating us from His grace and love. But through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, all of us have been called back from among the nations, all the lost sheep of the Lord gathered back into the same one flock of Christ, our Good Shepherd. Through baptism, we have entered this New Covenant that He had made and sealed with His own Precious Blood on the Cross.

At Pentecost, three thousand people were convinced and received baptism from the disciples, which is interestingly a comparison and contrast to what happened back then at Mount Sinai. As we all should know, the Israelites rebelled against God and disobeyed Him there when they built and raised up a golden calf idol that they treated and worshipped as god over them, and this led the whole people into sin, where according to the later part of the Book of Exodus, three thousand people sided with the idol and were crushed and killed when Moses pronounced the judgment of God against them. The three thousand people saved at Pentecost was a clear reversal of what happened at Mount Sinai.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this Pentecost Sunday is also often known as the ‘birthday of the Church’ and it is rightly so because the Church of God is the physical gathering and assembly of the people of God, of all the faithful who have shared in the gift of baptism, to be that One Body of Christ. As Scripture says, we have all been made one body, one spirit, in Christ. That is what the Church is, and as the disciples went forth from hiding to begin in earnest their work of evangelisation, converting the three thousand people and possibly more, that established the very first tangible community of the faithful people of God, the visible Church. Hence, that is why this Pentecost is considered as the birthday of the Church.

Now, having discussed in detail what Pentecost is about, and how it is closely linked to the past events in the history of salvation, let us all then discern what we are to do ourselves going forward from now on. Just as the Israelites did not reach the Promised Land immediately after God made His Covenant with them at Mount Sinai, and how they had to endure a lot of challenges, punishments and hardships along the way, thus as I mentioned earlier, that this Covenant that God made with us all as Christians mark only the beginning of our journey of faith towards Him, towards our hopefully final destination that is Heaven.

That is why we must never think of our baptism as the end of our journey. On the contrary, it is the beginning of our new life with God, beginning a new existence and life in Him, inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit, that each and every one of us enter into this journey that we are all expected to walk through in our journey and path towards God, and each one of us as Christians are called to live our lives in accordance to the way that God had taught us and expected us to live them. If we do not do so, then we are hypocrites and even in the worse case, we may even scandalise our faith and the Lord just as how some among the faithful had acted wickedly not in accordance to what Christians ought to act and believe in.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we commemorate this great rejoicing at this Pentecost Sunday, let us remind ourselves at all times that even though it marks the end of the season of Easter, but it does not mean that the spirit of Easter ends here. On the contrary, as I mentioned earlier, we must remember that our Christian living is a journey towards God, and the struggles and challenges have not yet ended. In fact, as we continue to progress in faith and through this journey of life we may realise that we will encounter more and more challenges and trials along the way, and we may have to persevere through those difficult moments and trials.

But yet, we are not alone, brothers and sisters! The Holy Spirit is with us, as our Advocate and Helper. And just as the Holy Spirit was with the Apostles and disciples of the Lord back then, guiding them, inspiring and strengthening them, the Holy Spirit is also now with us, bestowing on us the gifts that are meant to help us. However, we have to open our hearts and minds, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in our path, as we can easily be tempted or shaken by fear that we lose our trust in God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Let us hence ask the Lord to continue to strengthen us and may the Holy Spirit continue to guide us in our journey towards the Lord and eternal life that we shall enjoy with Him forevermore. May all of us always ever be righteous and strive to do our best to walk in the path of God, now and always. Amen.

Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday marks the seventh Sunday in the season of Easter, and we are all reminded that as the glorious season of Easter is coming to a close soon, with the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday next week, we are all called as Christians to be always full of Easter joy and hope, and to carry out the mission which the Lord has entrusted to us, the mission to bring forth His truth and love to all the nations, to all the peoples of every race and every origins, so that everyone may come to know the Lord, His salvation and grace, His love and most generous mercy for us all, His beloved ones.

In our first reading today, we heard of the account of the martyrdom of St. Stephen, one of the first martyrs of the Church. St. Stephen was falsely accused by the opponents of the Lord and all those who resented him and his efforts in proclaiming the Christian faith and truth to the people. St. Stephen despite facing such an opposition and persecution, going up against the whole assembly of those who have been full of determination to persecute and destroy him, did not fear for his life. On the contrary, encouraged and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, St. Stephen courageously proclaimed the Lord and all that He had done for our salvation before those same people.

St. Stephen spent the time to reveal to them the truth of God and he spoke very convincingly guided by the Wisdom granted to him through the Holy Spirit. Yet, the people refused to listen to him, close off and shielded their ears, rushing towards him and angrily stoning him to death. And despite everything that happened to him, St. Stephen did exactly the same as the Lord had done, forgiving and praying for the sake of all those who had persecuted him, asking the Lord not to hold their mistakes and faults, their sins against them, but to forgive them and to show mercy on them. That is what each and every one of us as Christians are asked to emulate in our own lives.

In our second reading today, we heard from the Book of the Revelations of St. John the Apostle, the vision that St. John received while he was exiled at the island of Patmos. St. John received the vision of the things that will happen in the future, and today, we heard the conclusion of that account of his vision of the future. After having seen all that will transpire and happen in the end of times, the Second Coming of the Lord and the final triumph of the Lord against Satan and the forces of evil and sin, St. John saw the Lord speaking to him and telling him that He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, and that He will come again at the end of time, everything to happen just as St. John had seen them.

That is why the Lord told him and through him, His Church, all of us to be His faithful witnesses, and to speak of this same truth, the truth that St. Stephen had spoken courageously about, and had died defending. St. Stephen died defending the same truth that has been entrusted to us all, and which we all also ought to defend and proclaim courageously in our own present day and time. This is what each and every one of us have been called to do, and God has given us all various gifts, talents and opportunities for us to be inspirations to each other, so that by our lives and actions, we may all inspire more people to come to believe in God and be saved.

That is why today, this Sunday we also commemorate the occasion of World Communications Sunday. In the context of our faith, we are all called to be good communicators of our faith, as faithful and devout witnesses of our Christian truths, of the Lord’s love and kindness. This is our mission as part of the Church of God, the Great Commission that our Lord had entrusted to His disciples before He ascended into Heaven. And although He has ascended into Heaven and is no longer physically visible in our midst, but He is in truth always with us, guiding us along the way, and the Holy Spirit that He has granted to us through the Church, gave us the wisdom and courage to proclaim Him just as St. Stephen had done.

Nonetheless, in order for us to do this properly, we have to be connected to the Lord and we have to regularly in communication with Him. As we heard in our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus praying to His Father in Heaven, asking Him to bless His disciples and to give them strength and guidance, we should always look up to the Lord and keep ourselves connected to Him, just as the Lord Himself often prayed to His Father. Jesus has showed us the example of how we all should pray and stay connected to our loving Father and Creator, and we should heed and emulate His examples in our own lives.

That brings us to think of what a prayer truly is. Prayer is not like what some of us may think it is. Prayer is not the means for us to attain or achieve what we wanted, that just by asking the Lord what we want through prayer, then God will then give us what we wanted. That is among some very common misconceptions that we normally had on what a prayer truly is. Prayer is not a litany of demands or petitions made by us, demanding that God does something for our sake or on our behalf. Let us not forget that God does not owe us anything or in any way beholden to us, that He has to accede to our demands.

On the contrary, true prayer is our way of communicating wholeheartedly to the Lord, our loving Father and Creator, in the manner how the Lord Jesus Himself prayed to His Father, and how the Apostles and saints like St. Stephen prayed. Prayer is about opening ourselves and our hearts and minds, entering into genuine communication and dialogue with God, speaking to Him and letting Him speak to us as well, in the depths of our hearts and minds. Unfortunately, more often than not we allow ourselves to be distracted and we were also unwilling to listen to God, while forcing God and demanding on Him to listen to us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why on this Seventh Sunday of Easter, the World Communications Sunday, each one of us as Christians are not only just reminded of our calling and mission in life, to evangelise and proclaim the truth of God in our world today, but we must also learn to be good communicators in order to do so. As mentioned, first of all we must be connected to God and know how to communicate with Him, through prayers and other means, and not only sporadically, but as often as we are able to, from our hearts and allowing God to speak to us, so that we may know of His will and what He intends with our lives.

And in our work of evangelisation and proclaiming the words of God’s truth, we must also be good and effective communicators as well. We cannot convince others to believe in God unless we also listen to them and communicate with them, reaching out to them and their hearts. Imposing our will and demanding others to listen to us only do not make use good evangelisers and examples of our Christian faith. Not only that, but we can even risk causing others to distance themselves further away from God and His Church, as we must be mindful that our actions can both bring people closer to God, as well as driving people away from Him.

Hence, as Christians, we have truly great responsibilities, to proclaim the Word of God and the Christian teachings and truths through our lives. We should not just speak with our words, but we must embody our Christian faith through our way of life, in every single moments of our lives, so that others who see us, witness our actions and way of life may come to believe in God through us. In fact, if we do not live our lives according to what we profess or proclaim, then we are no better than hypocrites who do not live their lives and practice what they themselves had preached. And in that way, hardly anyone will believe in us, no matter what we tell them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday, let us all renew our commitment to the Lord, to be the bearers of His Good News and truth to the nations. We do not have to seek to do great things in life, but rather, even in the smallest things we do, in our every interactions with each other, we should do our best to live up to our Christian faith and beliefs. We have to allow the Lord to lead and guide us, through the wisdom and courage of His Holy Spirit, that we do not end up falling into the wrong path in life, or mislead others into the path of sin. Let our lives be good examples and let us communicate our faith well to others, and strengthen each other’s faith through examples of our own lives.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in our own respective journeys of life. May He empower us all to walk ever more faithfully in His path. May God bless us in our every actions and way of life, and may He remain in our midst and lives, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today, on the fortieth day of Easter or on the seventh Sunday in the Easter season, we mark the occasion of the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, commemorating the moment when the Risen Lord Jesus, after having appeared to His disciples, ascended in glory to Heaven, returning to His place at the side of God the Father. On this day we remember the time when the Lord, as He ascended into Heaven, sent out His disciples and followers with the final commandment, also known as the Great Commission, to go forth to the whole world and make the disciples of all the peoples of all the nations.

Today we are all reminded that while God has ascended into Heaven, it was not because He abandoned us or left us behind. Instead, as He Himself had said, that He went before all of us to prepare a place for us, and also as He has said and promised, that He will come again in the end, at His Second Coming, to gather all of His faithful ones and to win a final triumphant victory against the forces of evil, leading all of us, God’s beloved children to the true and fullness of happiness which had been intended and meant for us from the very beginning. The Lord ascended into Heaven to show us that He truly came from there, and by His love for us, He has willingly come to us in order to touch us and to show His most generous and enduring love for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Solemnity of the Ascension, we are presented with the full circle of the Lord’s work in bringing His love and salvation into our midst. We have seen the Lord’s love made flesh, the Son of God made Man, Who entered into this world as the Son of Man, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His Mother, and made the love of God and His salvation tangible and approachable to us. The Lord has shown Himself to us, and as He came of age and revealed Himself through His Baptism, He began His ministry and work among us, and revealing the truth that He has brought into this world.

And today we mark that moment after He has completed all of that world He had to do in this world, in obeying the will of His heavenly Father. He completed His many works, healing the people, casting out demons and performing countless other miracles and signs, showing everyone that He is truly the One Whom the prophets and messengers of God had spoken and prophesied about. He would then face suffering for our sake, willingly and voluntarily taking up His Cross for our sake, accepting the burden of that Cross on our behalf, bearing on His shoulders the whole burden and the consequences due for our sins. By His Passion, suffering and death, He has united us to Himself and we who share in His death and then later, His Resurrection, have become sharers and partakers of this promise of eternal life.

Hence, after He has completed all of these and made a New Covenant, the new and everlasting Covenant between God and us, sealed and purchased by His own Precious Blood, which He offered for our sake, as our High Priest, on the Altar of His Cross, as mentioned in our second reading today, so that by the offering of the most worthy Precious Body and Blood of the Son of God, the Holy Paschal Lamb of God, then the atonement of our innumerable sins can be made a reality. We are truly so fortunate that we have such a loving God on our side, caring for us and protecting us, and even reaching out to us and loving us when we have often spurned His love and rejected Him and His mercy.

The Lord ascended into Heaven after He has risen from the dead, after His triumphant victory against evil and death. And as He ascended gloriously by His own power and might, it proved to all those who had witnessed Him in His Risen glory and that He did not die but had risen from the dead, that truly Jesus Christ is the Holy One Who had come down from Heaven as prophesied by the prophets and the servants of God of ages past, and the Lord has delivered unto us the unmistakeable proof of His love, by His sacrifice on the Cross. His ascension and return into Heaven then serves as the proof that whatever He had said was true, and the disciples who witnessed it, believed in Him as they had always done.

The Lord also did not leave His disciples alone, as He has promised to send them the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit would continue to guide them henceforth, to do what He commanded them all to do, the Great Commission to go forth to all the people from all the nations, proclaiming the truth of God, the Good News of His salvation and to gather them all to Himself, by baptising them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This has been, is and will always be the primary mission of the Church, as God entrusted this very important mission to His Church, to this very day, so that many more people who had not yet known Him, may come to be saved as well.

That is why, today, as we celebrate this Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, it is very important that each and every one of us realise that as parts and members of the Church, each one of us as Christians ought to take up this same mission which God has entrusted to us, to be His witnesses and to evangelise to all the people of all the nations. We are all called to share in the very same mission that God has entrusted to His Apostles, until He comes again at the end of time, at the time of His Second Coming, as shown in the Book of Revelations of St. John the Apostle, when God will come once again to gather all of His faithful and win a final victory against evil.

Now, let us ask ourselves, brothers and sisters. Have we truly lived our lives faithfully as Christians all these while? Or have we instead been idle and ignorant of our calling and mission as Christians, or even worse still, have we instead been acting in ways that brought scandal to our faith and to the Lord, which caused others to distance themselves from the Church and from the Christian faith and truths? These are important questions that we really need to ask ourselves and to serve as good reminders even as we celebrate this Ascension of Our Lord today, so that it will not be merely just another celebration and then life goes on as usual for us, without a profound change in our life attitudes.

If we wonder whether we are worthy or capable of the calling and the mission which the Lord had entrusted to us, then we do not need to look any further from the Apostles themselves, many of whom were illiterate and came from backgrounds and origins that would have made them unlikely, even ineligible to be the followers and champions of the Lord. And yet, that was what exactly had happened, and the Lord called His disciples and followers even from among the unlikeliest of sources, because ultimately what we think as impossible, by our standards, are perfectly possible for God, because everything is possible for Him, Who knows all things and rules over all.

We do not need to do magnificent or wonderful things. Even if we can live our lives righteously, in accordance to the teachings of the Lord and the laws and rules of the Church, in even the smallest things and parts of our lives, then that will already be sufficient for us. What we need to do is to do our best even in the smallest of things, in the every words we utter, every actions and interactions we have done, and in our every works and dealings. We are all called to be good examples, role models and inspirations to one another with our every day living and in all that we say, act and do. That is the best way for us to proclaim the Lord and to evangelise, reaching out to all those who have not yet known the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore strive to do our best in our every day living, from now on if we have not yet done so, to be good and committed disciples of Our Lord, spreading His Good News, truth and love to all, and continuing His many good works that He has entrusted to His Church. We are all God’s people, and we should do our best to follow Him and obey His will as best as we can. We should reflect on this well as we celebrate this glorious day of the Ascension. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide us all and to strengthen us just as He has guided the Apostles and disciples in doing their best for the greater glory of God.

May our Lord, Who ascended in glory and Who has shown us His everlasting love, continue to guide us and be with us, and may He strengthen each and every one of us in our path so that we may always ever be ready to embark on the journey of faith and be great witnesses and missionaries of His cause, glorifying Him by our every actions and deeds in life. Amen.

Thursday, 26 May 2022 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today, on the fortieth day of Easter, we mark the occasion of the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, commemorating the moment when the Risen Lord Jesus, after having appeared to His disciples, ascended in glory to Heaven, returning to His place at the side of God the Father. On this day we remember the time when the Lord, as He ascended into Heaven, sent out His disciples and followers with the final commandment, also known as the Great Commission, to go forth to the whole world and make the disciples of all the peoples of all the nations.

Today we are all reminded that while God has ascended into Heaven, it was not because He abandoned us or left us behind. Instead, as He Himself had said, that He went before all of us to prepare a place for us, and also as He has said and promised, that He will come again in the end, at His Second Coming, to gather all of His faithful ones and to win a final triumphant victory against the forces of evil, leading all of us, God’s beloved children to the true and fullness of happiness which had been intended and meant for us from the very beginning. The Lord ascended into Heaven to show us that He truly came from there, and by His love for us, He has willingly come to us in order to touch us and to show His most generous and enduring love for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Solemnity of the Ascension, we are presented with the full circle of the Lord’s work in bringing His love and salvation into our midst. We have seen the Lord’s love made flesh, the Son of God made Man, Who entered into this world as the Son of Man, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His Mother, and made the love of God and His salvation tangible and approachable to us. The Lord has shown Himself to us, and as He came of age and revealed Himself through His Baptism, He began His ministry and work among us, and revealing the truth that He has brought into this world.

And today we mark that moment after He has completed all of that world He had to do in this world, in obeying the will of His heavenly Father. He completed His many works, healing the people, casting out demons and performing countless other miracles and signs, showing everyone that He is truly the One Whom the prophets and messengers of God had spoken and prophesied about. He would then face suffering for our sake, willingly and voluntarily taking up His Cross for our sake, accepting the burden of that Cross on our behalf, bearing on His shoulders the whole burden and the consequences due for our sins. By His Passion, suffering and death, He has united us to Himself and we who share in His death and then later, His Resurrection, have become sharers and partakers of this promise of eternal life.

Hence, after He has completed all of these and made a New Covenant, the new and everlasting Covenant between God and us, sealed and purchased by His own Precious Blood, which He offered for our sake, as our High Priest, on the Altar of His Cross, as mentioned in our second reading today, so that by the offering of the most worthy Precious Body and Blood of the Son of God, the Holy Paschal Lamb of God, then the atonement of our innumerable sins can be made a reality. We are truly so fortunate that we have such a loving God on our side, caring for us and protecting us, and even reaching out to us and loving us when we have often spurned His love and rejected Him and His mercy.

The Lord ascended into Heaven after He has risen from the dead, after His triumphant victory against evil and death. And as He ascended gloriously by His own power and might, it proved to all those who had witnessed Him in His Risen glory and that He did not die but had risen from the dead, that truly Jesus Christ is the Holy One Who had come down from Heaven as prophesied by the prophets and the servants of God of ages past, and the Lord has delivered unto us the unmistakeable proof of His love, by His sacrifice on the Cross. His ascension and return into Heaven then serves as the proof that whatever He had said was true, and the disciples who witnessed it, believed in Him as they had always done.

The Lord also did not leave His disciples alone, as He has promised to send them the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit would continue to guide them henceforth, to do what He commanded them all to do, the Great Commission to go forth to all the people from all the nations, proclaiming the truth of God, the Good News of His salvation and to gather them all to Himself, by baptising them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This has been, is and will always be the primary mission of the Church, as God entrusted this very important mission to His Church, to this very day, so that many more people who had not yet known Him, may come to be saved as well.

That is why, today, as we celebrate this Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, it is very important that each and every one of us realise that as parts and members of the Church, each one of us as Christians ought to take up this same mission which God has entrusted to us, to be His witnesses and to evangelise to all the people of all the nations. We are all called to share in the very same mission that God has entrusted to His Apostles, until He comes again at the end of time, at the time of His Second Coming, as shown in the Book of Revelations of St. John the Apostle, when God will come once again to gather all of His faithful and win a final victory against evil.

Now, let us ask ourselves, brothers and sisters. Have we truly lived our lives faithfully as Christians all these while? Or have we instead been idle and ignorant of our calling and mission as Christians, or even worse still, have we instead been acting in ways that brought scandal to our faith and to the Lord, which caused others to distance themselves from the Church and from the Christian faith and truths? These are important questions that we really need to ask ourselves and to serve as good reminders even as we celebrate this Ascension of Our Lord today, so that it will not be merely just another celebration and then life goes on as usual for us, without a profound change in our life attitudes.

If we wonder whether we are worthy or capable of the calling and the mission which the Lord had entrusted to us, then we do not need to look any further from the Apostles themselves, many of whom were illiterate and came from backgrounds and origins that would have made them unlikely, even ineligible to be the followers and champions of the Lord. And yet, that was what exactly had happened, and the Lord called His disciples and followers even from among the unlikeliest of sources, because ultimately what we think as impossible, by our standards, are perfectly possible for God, because everything is possible for Him, Who knows all things and rules over all.

We do not need to do magnificent or wonderful things. Even if we can live our lives righteously, in accordance to the teachings of the Lord and the laws and rules of the Church, in even the smallest things and parts of our lives, then that will already be sufficient for us. What we need to do is to do our best even in the smallest of things, in the every words we utter, every actions and interactions we have done, and in our every works and dealings. We are all called to be good examples, role models and inspirations to one another with our every day living and in all that we say, act and do. That is the best way for us to proclaim the Lord and to evangelise, reaching out to all those who have not yet known the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore strive to do our best in our every day living, from now on if we have not yet done so, to be good and committed disciples of Our Lord, spreading His Good News, truth and love to all, and continuing His many good works that He has entrusted to His Church. We are all God’s people, and we should do our best to follow Him and obey His will as best as we can. We should reflect on this well as we celebrate this glorious day of the Ascension. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide us all and to strengthen us just as He has guided the Apostles and disciples in doing their best for the greater glory of God.

May our Lord, Who ascended in glory and Who has shown us His everlasting love, continue to guide us and be with us, and may He strengthen each and every one of us in our path so that we may always ever be ready to embark on the journey of faith and be great witnesses and missionaries of His cause, glorifying Him by our every actions and deeds in life. Amen.