Sunday, 11 June 2023 : 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, this Sunday the Church celebrates the great Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, celebrating the great and Most Precious Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Who has given His Body and Blood for us to partake, in Holy Communion of the Church, the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist. On this day, celebrating this great and most important aspect of our faith, in the celebration of what is popularly known as Corpus Christi, all of us are brought together and reminded of this great real and spiritual union all of us have as the parts and members of the same Church of God, the Body of Christ, that is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. On this day, all of us are called to remember our belief in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, as we all believe that the bread and wine offered by the priests at the Holy Mass is truly turned into the real and true essence, material and substance of the Lord Himself in the Flesh and Blood.

All of us believe that the bread and wine while they may seem to appear still like bread and wine, but we believe that they have been completely turn in reality, essence and all things to the very essence of the Body and Blood of the Lord Himself, and this is what we all know as the Real Presence in the Eucharist. We believe wholeheartedly that when we receive the Eucharist in Holy Communion, all of us are not just merely remembering the event of His giving us His Body and Blood, and we are also not just commemorating the event of the Last Supper and the Lord’s sacrifice on His Cross. Instead, all of us truly believe that the Holy Mass itself is the same Sacrifice that the Lord had made on His Cross, through time immemorial and beyond the boundaries of time and space, uniting all Christians, all sharing in the Most Precious Body and Blood of the Lord that has been given to us, for us to eat, drink and share amongst us all as the tangible sign of unity in us all as Christians, members of the same Body of Christ, the Church.

That is why today, as we listened to the readings taken from the Sacred Scriptures and ponder upon the mystery and the important tenet of this Real Presence in the Eucharist, of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord that we have partaken, all of us are called to be faithful bearers of this truth, and to proclaim the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist, as our faith has required of us. If we ourselves have not truly believed in the Lord’s Real Presence, His Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood truly present in the Eucharist that we receive, then how can we convince others around us, all those whom we encounter in life, that the Real Presence is the truth? Unfortunately, too many Christians out there have not had a good and proper understanding of what the Real Presence in the Eucharist is all about, and how significant it is that we have received and partaken of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord unto ourselves.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Deuteronomy in which we heard of the exhortation which Moses, the leader of the people of God, the Israelites, gave to the people not long before they end their long journey and sojourn in the desert after their Exodus from Egypt. Back then, the people of Israel had lived through a long forty years of journey through the desert that lies between the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan, the ancestral lands promised to the Israelites. What should have been a rather short and quick journey from their land of slavery to a land of overflowing abundance, of milk and honey, of great blessings of God, became a great detour and long wait because of the stubbornness and rebelliousness of the Israelites who have frequently tried to walk in their own path and having constantly been refusing to follow the Lord and His commands.

Yet, the Lord still patiently cared for His people, while chastising those who have rebelled and sinned against Him. He truly loved them all much like a father cares for his children. And like a father who truly cares for the well-being of his children, the Lord shows His love and cares for us all while chastising and disciplining us with firm hand whenever it is necessary. That is true love and care, brothers and sisters in Christ, as if God only shows us what is good and enjoyable only, and not showing us proper discipline, we will end up being spoilt and then think that we can do everything as we like it, and not living our lives in the manner that we should have, as the children and people of God. Like those people of Israel, whom God had called and chosen from among the nations to be the first people that He called as His own beloved ones, God made a Covenant with them and expected them to live worthily according to His Law and commandments.

Despite having to put up with all of their rebelliousness and stubborn attitude, the Lord still gave His people providence, sustenance, food and drink throughout their sojourn in the desert. He sent them the heavenly bread, the manna, every morning without fail, and also flocks of birds every evening to keep the people well sustained and provisioned, and also crystal-clear water from the rocks itself, in the middle of the empty, lifeless and burning desert. Many among the people of Israel were indeed ungrateful and wicked, in their desires and their wants, in all the things which they demanded from the Lord. Although they had been fed and been well-taken care of, they still wanted all the things and supposed luxuries that they once had when they were still in Egypt, although they were then living there as slaves under the dominion of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh.

In our second reading today, we then heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians of the account of what happened at the Last Supper that the Lord had with His disciples. At that occasion, the Lord Jesus blessed and broke the bread, and gave the bread to His disciples while saying to them that, it is His Body which He was giving to them, and when He afterwards blessed and passed the chalice filled with wine to the disciples, He said to them that it was His Blood that He was sharing and outpouring upon them, for them to partake and drink, so that through His Body and Blood, all of them may truly be united as One Body of Christ, the Church. It was there and then that the Lord began His Passion journey, as He began His sacrificial offering of His own Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood as the most worthy and perfect offering on behalf of us all, for the atonement of all of our sins.

As the Gospel reading today mentioned to us, on the discourse of the Lord to the disciples and many of the people who followed Him, of Himself being the Bread of Life, He did not mince His words in both cases, when He was telling the people about Himself as the Bread of Life and the Living Bread Who has come down from Heaven, and at the Last Supper to His disciples. He did not say that He was giving them a symbol of His Body or a symbol of His Blood. And even when His own disciples complained that the Lord was making things difficult for them by saying such things that were considered unbelievable and outrageous at best, and which was hard to be accepted by many among the people. Yet, the Lord doubled down and emphasised on what He had just told them, telling them that He is truly the Bread of Life, the Living Bread Who has come down upon us, so that He may feed us all His Body and His Blood, and all of us who share in His Body and Blood will not perish but live forever.

At that time, many of the Lord’s disciples abandoned Him and left Him, because they felt uncomfortable of what He had spoken, in saying that He was giving them His own Flesh as food for them and His own Blood as drink for them to share and partake. Is that not the exact same response from all those in the past and present who refused to believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist? Is that not the same attitude shown by those who lack belief and faith in not believing that the bread and wine we partake in the Eucharist are no longer bread and wine, but are the very essence and reality of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord Himself? This is why today, as we listened to these words from the Sacred Scriptures, all of us are being constantly reminded of this very central and crucial tenet of our Christian faith. We must first treat the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord in the Eucharist, His Real Presence with utmost respect and worship, adoration and honour, as we should for our Almighty God and Master.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if we look at the state of how many Christians treat the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist, and how many actually believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, we will be really alarmed. That is because less and less people, and alarmingly low percentage of believers in the Church still believed in the Real Presence in the Eucharist. Some did not understand what the Eucharist is about, the significance of the Lord being truly present within the Eucharist in His Most Precious and Holy Body and Blood. Many of our fellow Christians, and perhaps even we ourselves may have treated the Lord with disrespect, even within the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. How many of us truly and actually spend our whole time meaningfully and well, in dedicating ourselves to the Lord whenever we attend and participate in the Holy Mass? How many of us cannot wait for the Holy Mass to end and then continue with our daily business and actions?

If we cannot even show our faith and belief in the Lord’s Real Presence, how can we expect others to believe in the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord being truly present in the Eucharist as well? If we ourselves have not treated the Holy Eucharist with the utmost respect as the Lord truly deserves it, then how can others around us believe that th Holy Eucharist, the bread and wine that by the power of God through the Holy Spirit, and by the hands of the priests whom He had appointed, to be His representatives, in this world, in persona Christi, transformed, in reality and fullness of essence, the Lord Himself present in the flesh? That is why we have to start with ourselves, by believing more sincerely and more devotedly to the Real Presence of our Lord and Saviour in the Most Holy Eucharist. We have to respect, honour and adore the Lord being truly present in our midst more, and begin doing that by living our lives in a more worthy, Christ-like manner.

May the Lord, truly present in the Eucharist, continue to help and guide us, strengthen us all in our journey throughout life. May He continue to guide and empower His Church, all of us who are faithful in this world and beyond, so that each and every one of us will continue to proclaim His truth and Good News, and may all of us continue to grow ever closer to God and His love, and may He be glorified by our actions and works, in each and every moments. Amen.

Sunday, 11 June 2023 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 51-58

Jesus said to His disciples and to the people, “I am the Living Bread from heaven; whoever eats of this Bread will live forever. The Bread I shall give is My Flesh, and I will give it for the life of the world.”

The Jews were arguing among themselves, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” So Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, if you do not eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you. The one who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood lives eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

“My Flesh is really food, and My Blood is truly drink. Those who eat My Flesh and drink My Blood, live in Me, and I in them. Just as the Father, Who is Life, sent Me, and I have life from the Father, so whoever eats Me will have life from Me. This is the Bread from heaven; not like that of your ancestors, who ate and later died. Those who eat this Bread will live forever.”

Sunday, 11 June 2023 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 10 : 16-17

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a communion with the Blood of Christ? And the bread that we break, is it not a communion with the Body of Christ?

The bread is one, and so we, though many, form one body, sharing the one bread.

Sunday, 11 June 2023 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 147 : 12-13, 14-15, 19-20

Exalt YHVH, o Jerusalem; praise your God, o Zion! For He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your children within you.

He grants peace on your borders and feeds you with the finest grain. He sends His command to the earth and swiftly runs His word.

It is He, Who tells Jacob His words; His laws and decrees, to Israel. This, He has not done for other nations, so His laws remain unknown to them. Alleluia!

Sunday, 11 June 2023 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Deuteronomy 8 : 2-3, 14b-16a

Remember how YHVH, your God, brought you through the desert for forty years. He humbled you, to test you and know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He made you experience want, He made you experience hunger, but He gave you manna to eat which neither you nor your fathers had known, to show you that one does not live on bread alone, but also by everything that comes from the mouth of God.

Do not forget YHVH, your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of slavery. It is He Who has led you across this great and terrible desert, full of fiery serpents and scorpions, an arid land where there is no water. But for you He made water gush forth from the hardest rock. And He fed you in the desert with manna which your fathers did not know.

Sunday, 11 June 2023 : Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday as we all gather together to celebrate the Eucharist, all of us are reminded that each and every one of us as God’s beloved people, we are all called to love the Lord with all of our strength and to commit ourselves to Him, as we should have done with our lives. Each and every one of us should follow the Lord and heed His call, which He had made to us at various junctures and occasions throughout our lives. In whatever mission and ministry the Lord has called us to do, we are all reminded to give our very best through what we heard in our Sacred Scriptures passages, so that each one of us, in case we have not yet done so, may indeed embrace the path that the Lord has shown us, that we, who are sinners, may aspire to follow God and be like the glorious and holy saints, who were once sinners like us as well.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Hosea in which the prophet Hosea exhorted and reminded the people of God, both those in the northern kingdom of Israel and in the southern kingdom of Judah, the people of Israel all the same, to return to the Lord and to reject their past sinful ways and wickedness. The prophet Hosea told the people of the lamentations of the Lord as He spoke to them about all the wicked deeds they had done, in their disobedience and refusal to listen to the words of the Lord, in their stubbornness in following their own wicked paths, in worshipping the pagan idols and gods of their neighbours, betraying the Lord and abandoning His Law and commandments, which He had entrusted and commanded them to obey and follow. They turned a deaf ear towards the prophets that He had sent unto them to remind them and help them to return to the right path.

Therefore, at that time, during the ministry of the prophet Hosea, when both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were facing great calamities and disasters, defeats and humiliations one after another, the Lord was sending His reminders again to His people through Hosea, to tell them that whatever they were doing, were wrong and they were mistaken in their way of life, and they ought to heed His warnings and words, so that they would not end up being dragged ever deeper into the trap of sin and worldliness. It may seem that the Lord was being very tough and harsh on His people, but it was actually necessary, just like that of a father who truly cares for the well-being of his children. If the father were to pamper the child and allow the child to do whatever he or she wanted to do, that would have led the child to become spoilt and might end up becoming unruly and wicked in his or her ways.

That is why, when the Lord chastised His people, and when He punished them, through hardships and humiliations they had to encounter and endure, it was because ultimately of God’s love and care for each and every one of us, without exception. It is such that even the greatest of sinners are never beyond the reach of God’s mercy and love. So abundant and bountiful indeed were God’s mercy and compassion that He has been patiently guiding us, enduring our repeated rebellions and disobedience, our waywardness and wicked ways, all so that by His help and merciful love, we may find our way back to His loving embrace, and be forgiven from our many sins and faults. And all these is due to God’s ever enduring love for us, as He loves each one of us and certainly does not want us to be separated from Him.

Then, in our second reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, we heard of how St. Paul told the faithful people of God in Rome of the faith which Abraham, the father of faith of all Abrahamic faiths and beliefs, had in the Lord, and how he dedicated himself wholeheartedly to the Lord. St. Paul used the example of Abraham to highlight to all of the faithful that faith and righteousness come hand in hand, and one is righteous when he or she is not just being faithful, but live their lives in accordance to their faith in the Lord, and in entrusting themselves to His love and care, and follow Him wholeheartedly in the path that He has shown them and led them through, a path of righteousness and justice.

Abraham himself was not a perfect person, as no other human being except for that our Lord Himself, was ever perfect. He made mistakes, erred and fell into sin just like any one of us. He had his moments of weakness and struggles against sin and temptations, just as Moses, David and other great and holy servants of God can attest to us, and like how many of our holy predecessors in the Church, the numerous saints and martyrs can show us through their own lives and examples. But God called them and chose them from among the people, and they responded positively and favourably to God’s call, embracing their calling wholeheartedly, and changed their lives for the better, that they who were once sinners, have become new beings filled with the light and grace of God.

This is echoed by what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, in what we heard about the calling of Levi, the tax collector, who would later on became known as St. Matthew the Apostle, one of the Twelve Apostles of the Lord and one of the Four Evangelists. Tax collectors during the time of the Lord Jesus were often reviled and hated, ostracised and discriminated against because of the nature of their work, their dealings with the Romans, the overlords of much of the whole region at that time. No one liked to be taxed, and all the more if those taxes ended up filling the coffers of foreign overlords. In fact, there were quite a number of uprisings and rebellions by the Jewish people back then, which explained the rather hated status of tax collectors.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who often viewed themselves as above the rest and better spiritually and in matters of religion and faith than the rest of the people, looked down on the tax collectors like what they had done to others they deemed as sinners and those who could not be redeemed. Hence, they looked negatively and sneered at the Lord Who called tax collectors to be His own disciples and followers, and Him coming into their houses to have meal and interacting with them. Doing such things were taboo for those Pharisees and teachers of the Law, as they considered it unclean and even sinful to mingle with sinners, as if those sins might corrupt them as well.

But the Lord courageously and passionately defended His works and His outreach to sinners, stating that it was exactly what He has come into this world for, to rescue sinners and all those who have been separated from God. Many of us have fallen on the wayside in our journey of faith towards the Lord, and we have often been distracted as we progress on in our lives. But the Lord, our most loving Master and Good Shepherd, loves each and every one of us, and does not want any one of us, His beloved sheep, to be lost to Him. He came to us, to dwell with us and to find us, so that He might lead us all from the darkness and back into the light. He gave it all to save us, and He helped us all so that through His ministry and ultimately by His sacrifice on the Cross, all of us might be reunited with God and His love and grace.

That is why all of us should not be afraid to seek the Lord and to put our trust in Him, in allowing Him to guide us down the right path in life. More often than not it is our own stubbornness and arrogance, of depending on our own means and might that we end up falling deeper and deeper into sin. If we do not allow the Lord to lead the way for us and insist on doing things our own way, we are likely to fall back into the path of sin and disobedience against God. Is that what we want, brothers and sisters in Christ? All of us are reminded that through the Lord alone there is hope and salvation. And not only that, but the Church is truly a hospital of sinners, through which the Lord is calling on all of His beloved people, all scattered around the world and in darkness, to return to Him and to find our path towards His eternal grace and salvation.

We should not be stubborn or proud like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, whose attitude showed bias and condemnation against others, but they failed to recognise their own sins, flaws and weaknesses, all of which became barriers and obstacles in their own path towards God. Many saints in the past were themselves sinners, but they recognised the gravity of their sins, repented and became obedient to God. We should instead be more humble and be more willing to listen to the truth of God, and spend more time to walk in the path that He has set before us. We should learn to resist more the temptations present all around us, the temptations of worldly pleasures, greed and disobedience against God. Each and every one of us are equally beloved by God, and therefore, instead of condemning others and comparing our way of living our Christian lives, we should do our best at all times in order to do what God has called us all to do.

Let us all hence answer God’s call, which He has repeatedly made to us, through His prophets, His messengers, disciples and followers, through His saints and others who work to proclaim His salvation among all of us. May the Lord, our most loving God and Good Shepherd, be with us always so that we may come ever closer to Him and to His ever generous love and compassion towards us. Amen.

Sunday, 11 June 2023 : Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 9 : 9-13

At that time, as Jesus moved on from the place where He cured a paralytic man, He saw a man named Matthew, at his seat in the custom house; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And Matthew got up and followed Him.

Now it happened, while Jesus was at table in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is it, that your Master eats with sinners and tax collectors?”

When Jesus heard this, He said, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. Go, and find out what this means : What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Sunday, 11 June 2023 : Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Romans 4 : 18-25

Abraham believed, and hoped against all expectation, thus, becoming the father of many nations, as he had been told : See how many will be your descendants.

He did not doubt, although his body could no longer give life – he was about a hundred years old – and, in spite of his wife, Sarah, being unable to have children.

He did not doubt, nor did he distrust the promise of God, and, by being strong in faith, he gave glory to God : he was convinced, that, He Who had given the promise, had power to fulfil it.

This was taken into account, for him to attain righteousness. This was taken into account : these words of Scripture are not only for him, but for us, too, because we believe in Him, Who raised Jesus, Our Lord, from among the dead, He, Who was delivered for our sins, and raised to life, for us to receive true righteousness.

Sunday, 11 June 2023 : Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 49 : 1, 8, 12-13, 14-15

The God of gods, YHVH has spoken; He summons the earth, from the rising of the sun to its setting.

Not for your sacrifices do I reprove you, for your burnt offerings are ever before Me.

I need not tell you if I were hungry, for mine is the world and all that it contains. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?

Yet, offer to God a sacrifice of thanks, and fulfil your vows to the Most High. Call on Me in time of calamity; I will deliver you, and you will glorify Me.

Sunday, 11 June 2023 : Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hosea 6 : 3-6

Let us strive to know YHVH. His coming is as certain as the dawn; His judgment will burst forth like the light; He will come to us as showers come, like spring rain that waters the earth.

O Ephraim, what shall I do with you? O Judah, how shall I deal with you? This love of yours is like morning mist, like morning dew that quickly disappears. This is why I smote you through the prophets, and have slain you by the words of My mouth.

For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice; it is knowledge of God, not burnt offerings.