Wednesday, 20 March 2019 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 20 : 17-28

At that time, when Jesus was going to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples and said to them, “See, we are going to Jerusalem. There the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law, who will condemn Him to death. They will hand Him over to the foreigners, who will mock Him, scourge Him and crucify Him. But He will be raised to life on the third day.”

Then the mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons, and she knelt down, to ask a favour. Jesus said to her, “What do you want?” And she answered, “Here You have my two sons. Grant that they may sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, when You are in Your kingdom.”

Jesus said to the brothers, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They answered, “We can.” Jesus replied, “You will indeed drink My cup, but to sit at My right or at My left is not for Me to grant. That will be for those, for whom My Father has prepared it.”

The other ten heard all this, and were angry with the two brothers. Then Jesus called them to Him and said, “You know that the rulers of the nations act as tyrants over them, and the powerful oppress them. It shall not be so among you : whoever wants to be more important in your community shall make himself your servant.”

“And if you want to be the first of all, make yourself the servant of all. Be like the Son of Man Who has come, not to be served but to serve, and to give His life to redeem many.”

Tuesday, 21 August 2018 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 19 : 23-30

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you : it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, believe Me : it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for the one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

On hearing this, the disciples were astonished and said, “Who, then, can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and answered, “For human beings it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Then Peter spoke up and said, “You see, we have given up everything to follow You. What, then, will there be for us?”

Jesus answered, “You, who have followed Me, listen to My words : on the Day of Renewal, when the Son of Man sits on His throne in glory, you, also, will sit, on twelve thrones, to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. As for those who have left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or property for My Name’s sake, they will receive a hundredfold, and be given eternal life. Many who are now first, will be last, and many who are now last, will be first.”

Monday, 20 August 2018 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 19 : 16-22

At that time, it was then, that a young man approached Him and asked, “Master, what good work must I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus answered, “Why do you ask Me about what is good? One, only, is good. If you want to enter eternal life, keep the commandments.”

The young man said, “Which commandments?” Jesus replied, “Do not kill; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honour your father and mother. And love your neighbour as yourself.” The young man said to Him, “I have kept all these commandments. What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell all that you possess, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come back and follow Me.” On hearing this, the young man went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.

Saturday, 18 March 2017 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Luke 15 : 1-3, 11-32

At that time, tax collectors and sinners were seeking the company of Jesus, all of them eager to hear what He had to say. But the Pharisees and the scribes frowned at this, muttering, ‘This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

So Jesus told them this parable : “There was a man with two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Give me my share of the estate.’ So the father divided his property between them. Some days later, the younger son gathered all his belongings and started off for a distant land, where he squandered his wealth in loose living.”

“Having spent everything, he was hard pressed when a severe famine broke out in that land. So he hired himself out to a well-to-do citizen of that place, and was sent to work on a pig farm. So famished was he, that he longed to fill his stomach even with the food given to the pigs, but no one offered him anything.”

“Finally coming to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will get up and go back to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against God, and before you. I no longer deserve to be called your son. Treat me then as one of your hired servants.’ With that thought in mind, he set off for his father’s house.”

“He was still a long way off, when his father caught sight of him. His father was so deeply moved with compassion that he ran out to meet him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. The son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.'”

“But the father turned to his servants : ‘Quick!’ he said. ‘Bring out the finest robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! Take the fattened calf and kill it! We shall celebrate and have a feast, for this son of mine was dead, and has come back to life; he was lost, and is found!’ And the celebration began.”

“Meanwhile, the elder son had been working in the fields. As he returned and approached the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what it was all about. The servant answered, ‘Your brother has come home safe and sound, and your father is so happy about it that he has ordered this celebration, and killed the fattened calf.'”

“The elder son became angry, and refused to go in. His father came out and pleaded with him. The son, very indignant, said, ‘Look, I have slaved for you all these years. Never have I disobeyed your orders. Yet you have never given me even a young goat to celebrate with my friends. Then when this son of yours returns, after squandering your property with loose women, you kill the fattened calf for him.'”

“The father said, ‘My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But this brother of yours was dead, and has come back to life; he was lost, and is found. And for that we had to rejoice and be glad.'”

Friday, 25 March 2016 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is Good Friday, and we all know that today marks the very special moment in the history of our faith and of our salvation, because on this day we celebrate together the love of our God, the great and infinite love which He had for every single one of us, by bearing our own sins and iniquities upon Himself, and ascending to the hill of Golgotha, He bared Himself before all to see, and though rejected and ridiculed, He persevered to the end for our sake. Yes, so that by His suffering and death on the cross, He may bring us all out from the darkness and into the eternal light.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, one might be asking, that given the gravity of the situation of the day, of what we commemorate, then why we do call this day Good Friday? Should it not be one of sorrow and sadness, remembering how our Lord and Saviour was hated, rejected, cast out and sentenced to death on the cross? But this is where exactly we have to understand the meaning of our Lord’s works and His greatest work of all, that by sacrificing Himself and offering Himself on the cross, He has brought us all a new hope, and as well as a new life. Today is Good for us, because if not for this day, all of us would have no hope, and our existence in this world would have been meaningless.

Yes, we have ever suffered in this world, suffered pain and bitterness, sorrow and sadness, and all the other forms of sufferings because of the consequences of our sins and disobedience against God. We have betrayed our Lord, broken our promises to Him, failing to keep His laws and covenants, and by listening more to the words of Satan the deceiver and also to our own human desires, pride, greed and submitting ourselves to sin, rather than to obey the Lord and to live in accordance with His will. It was our destiny and fate for us to face persecution and punishment at the end of our earthly lives, an eternity of suffering and separation from the Lord our God in hell.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God does despise our sins and He was angry at us with our disobedience. But we must not forget that just as much as He was angry with our sins and wickedness, He also still loved us with equal and even greater intensity, for all of us are beloved in His eyes, and He had created all of us out of love, to enjoy forever the blessings and graces that He had promised to all of us. Yet, because of our disobedience, we have been sundered from Him, separated from those blessings and graces intended for us, and that is why we suffered, because of our sinfulness.

And therefore to that extent of helping us and to keep us away from our fate of being destroyed for our disobedience, God Himself intervened for our sake, by sending to us His Deliverer, the Saviour Who would bring all mankind out of their sins and their misery, and bring them from the darkness of sin and into the light of righteousness in Him. And for this purpose He would send no mere man or any mere servant, but He sent to us His own Son, the very Lord God and Creator of all life and all the universe. He sent to us as a Redeemer, the Word of God, He Who is part of the Trinity, One God and Lord of all things, and yet, in all these, He was willing to empty Himself and came down to us in the form of a humble Man.

All these were done, so that by His humble and perfect offering before God His Father, the Lord God may accept His offering, and use it as the redemption and grace for all of us mankind who have ever lived, from the days of Adam to the days of the last man at the end of time. God offered Himself on the cross for us, that all of us who have a share in His suffering and death, may receive the gifts of eternal life and redemption from our sins. This was a sacrifice beyond all other sacrifices and offerings, for if in the past, the people of Israel offered the blood of goats and doves in order to absolve them temporarily from their sins, but God Himself offered His own Flesh and Blood, the perfect and spotless offering beyond all others, which was the only one worthy to redeem the whole multitude of our sins, every single taint of original sin that had held us back from our salvation and reunion with our loving God.

And if He had loved us so much, then what are we all supposed to do, brothers and sisters in Christ? Christ had chosen to die for all of us, for all mankind, from the least of sinners to the greatest among them, and from the humblest and smallest person, to the great and the mighty. He did not choose from us, and neither was He biased against a certain group or towards a certain person, but He offered His love, mercy and salvation to all. It is our choice now then, whether we are to accept that rich offering of love and mercy, or whether we want to reject them and instead continue to proceed on with our own lives.

Today we are all reminded that the cross that our Lord bore on His way to Calvary, and the cross on which He was nailed to, and hung between the heavens and the earth is a cross of love, the cross of mercy, the cross of forgiveness. For it was through that cross, that God made His love evident to all, and it was through that love, that He endeavoured to gather all of His beloved children to Himself, and took for us, for our sake, the punishments intended for us. And that cross is also the cross of victory, of the triumph against evil and sin, and of the triumph against death. For we know that His death was not forever, and neither did death had any power over Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, but we also have to realise that the cross of Christ is also a cross of suffering, as well as a cross of responsibility. Jesus Himself had said to His disciples, that all those who want to follow Him ought to take up their own crosses and follow Him. So, all of us mankind also have the same obligation to carry up our crosses with us, if we are to follow Him. This is what Jesus told us about how by becoming His followers and disciples, life will be difficult for us, because of all the opposition by the world, and by all the forces of darkness that did not desire to see us saved from our fated destruction.

And just how do we carry our crosses, brethren? It is by remembering that the cross itself is a symbol of love, a bridge between God and mankind, which our Lord Jesus had built for us. For once because of our sins, a great and wide chasm had existed between us and God, and none of us could go to the Lord without crossing that chasm, which was impossible. But our Lord Jesus made it all possible by His death on the cross. For we all who share in His cross, dying to ourselves and our sins, share with Him the glorious joy of His resurrection and brought into a new life of righteousness worthy of our Lord. It was through this that God Himself made the bridge between Him and ourselves, that is the cross of Christ.

Therefore, in order to carry our crosses, we ought to remember that the cross itself is a joining between two components, the vertical bar and the horizontal bar. The vertical bar represents the love and the relationship we have with God, while the horizontal bar represents the love and the relationships we have with one another, with our fellow men. And hence, if we are to be faithful to the Lord, and to be worthy of the salvation which He had offered us through His cross, we ought to remember to obey His covenant and His laws, that is by loving Him with all the might of our bodies, minds, hearts and soul, and do the same to our fellow brethren around us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all use this opportunity to reflect on our own lives. Have all of us been faithful to the Lord, and obeyed all of His laws and commandments? Or have we instead been more faithful to our whim and desires? Have we been loving and merciful in our interactions with our brethren around us, showing them acts of love and mercy, of care and compassion, of tenderness and justice? Let us all do so, if we have not done so yet. Let us all go forth in celebrating this Easter Triduum and the whole joyful season of Easter, by bringing forth the joy that God brought us, and share it with others who have little or none. May God bless us and keep us, and may through His holy Cross, He brings us to eternal life in Him. God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016 : Wednesday of the Holy Week, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard again how Judas Iscariot went on to betray the Lord Jesus, bargaining with the chief priests and the Pharisees to hand Him over for the thirty pieces of silver coins they offered to him. Today is the traditional day in the tradition of our Church when it was told that Judas went to deal with the Pharisees about the price he would receive for betraying his Lord and Messiah.

And how is this relevant to all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ? As tomorrow is the beginning of the Easter Triduum, we should enter it with good understanding of what we are celebrating, so that when we go through it, we may find ourselves t benefit far more rather than if we do not understand or are aware of what all the important celebrations of our liturgical year are about, especially that of the upcoming few days.

Judas chose the world and its wealth instead of Jesus, His teachings and truth. He was a thief whom Jesus called to be one of His disciples. God called His disciples from various origins. Some were fishermen, some were zealots and tax collectors, and some were criminals like Judas. But what distinguished him from the others of the Twelve was that, even though the others abandoned their past lives, leaving behind everything to follow the Lord, but Judas did not.

We know how St. Peter, the chief of all the Apostles and the most devoted disciple of Jesus once also betrayed Jesus when out of fear as the Jews arrested his Lord and Master, and under suspicion because he was counted among His disciples, then he denied knowing Him, denying his own Lord, to Whom he had promised that he would even lay down his life for Him.

But what is the difference here? The difference is that, while St. Peter realised the gravity of his sins, and in the same manner, Judas also did, when he regretted having sold out his Master for thirty pieces of silver, but while Judas gave up on himself, and out of despair, hanged himself on a tree, seeking the easy way out of the trouble, but St. Peter began a long path to redemption and greatness.

Judas did not repent from his sins even though he did feel regret for his actions. He had given himself up to the temptations of the world, the temptation of money, which he was not able to resist throughout the time when he was following Jesus. He helped himself to the funds of the group, stealing from the money that should have been used to help the poor and for the common good for his own selfish benefits. And therefore, he was condemned because of his failure to turn himself away from sin, resisting those sins and seeking forgiveness from God.

St. Peter professed one more time his faith to the Lord when He asked of him three times, whether he loved Him. And as St. Peter professed his sincere and genuine love for his Lord, the Lord was happy and pleased with His faith, and entrusted to him the flock which He had established in this world, that he would become the anchor and the core through which the Church of God would grow and encompass all the people who have been saved in Him.

In all these, we have to realise one simple fact, that even all saints were themselves once sinners, and some of them were even great sinners. St. Augustine of Hippo is one of the most prominent and well-cited example, of how even a great sinner can become a great saint, only if he or she would come to realise the gravity of their sins, and know that they need to do something about it, and indeed, take the necessary action.

Today, we commemorate the feast of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, one of the first saints hailing from the New World, or which is now known as the American continent. St. Turibius de Mogrovejo lived a few hundred years ago during the time when the people living in those places lived under slavery and harsh treatment by the Spanish who ruled over them and pressed hard on their lives, exploiting them at every possible opportunity.

St. Turibius de Mogrovejo led the people to live faithfully, and in his actions, he showed his examples to them, and worked among them even though heat, through difficult and challenging times. He helped to build facilities and infrastructures that benefited the indigenous peoples, and therefore helping them to live more comfortably and as a champion of their rights, St. Turibius de Mogrovejo helped the people to rediscover their rights.

In all these, we all should see how even the act of a single man could have such a great impact on many others. It does not need extraordinary works and events in order for us to do something that is good and something that can benefit our brethren around us. What we need to do is that we need to begin doing something and committing ourselves to do things that will bring happiness to others, and begin from small things and taking small steps to help us to become ever more righteous and committed to our Lord.

May God bless us all strengthen us, and may He keep us close to His side, and awaken in us the strong desire to love Him, so that in all the things we do, we will always strive to reach out to Him and to the salvation He offers us all with love and great kindness. God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016 : Tuesday of the Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is very clear from the Scripture readings today that we are really getting ever closer to the pinnacle of our liturgical year celebrations, that is the Easter Triduum, celebrating the Last Supper of our Lord where He instituted the Eucharist, giving us His Body and Blood to share as a new covenant between us and God, and which was made complete and perfect through His ultimate sacrifice on the cross, and which culminates in the celebration of His glorious resurrection.

In today’s Gospel, we saw first how Judas Iscariot was about to betray Jesus, his Lord and Master. Judas betrayed his Master to the Pharisees and the elders at the Temple, for a sum of thirty silver coins. Such was the price of a slave at that time, and which means, Judas sold out his own Master, the Lord God and King of Kings, at a price no more than the price of a mere slave.

And thus our Lord lowered Himself to be like a slave, and even lesser than a slave, for He had brought Himself to the lowest of the lowest darkness, in order to bring us all who have fallen into the same darkness, and lift us back up into the light. It was because God loves us all that He had endeavoured to do so, and willingly He went forth carrying out the mission which His Father had entrusted Him with, the salvation of all mankind.

The world itself did not appreciate Him, and they ridiculed Him, treated Him badly and rejected Him, and they refused to listen to His message, His teachings and His truth. But God had mercy on us because of His love, and because of that love which would not allow Him to abandon us all in the darkness on our own, unless it is by our own desire and conscious choice that we had chosen to abandon Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, indeed, the time of Lent is ending, and the season of fasting and abstinence to prepare ourselves for the joyous celebration of Easter is coming to an end soon. However, it does not mean that we return back to our sinful ways again. God wanted to save us, because He does not want us to fall into eternal damnation, and through the Church, He had shown us the path to reach out to His salvation, freely offered to all.

If God had loved us all so much, have we ourselves love Him as well? Or have we instead rejected His love and spurned His mercy? Do we want to be like Judas His traitorous disciple who loved money and worldliness more than he loved the Lord? It is a choice that we need to make, that in our lives, all of us should be conscious and be aware that all of our actions have implications to our salvation or to our damnation.

Let us not end our preparation for Easter just with the coming of Easter. If we have sincerely tried to abandon our sinfulness, casting aside the darkness and the wickedness that had coloured our lives all these while, then let us continue to do so, for the devil is always round about us, manipulating the world and all its forces to oppose the Lord and all of His good works. This means that temptations are always around us, and if we are not careful, we may fall into temptation and sin once again.

May God help us in our journey of this life, and may He strengthen the faith in each one of us, and the love which we should have for God, for His laws and for our fellow brethren. May He make us all realise how much He has loved us, and how much He has blessed us, and therefore awaken in us the desire for repentance, to turn our backs to sin, and to return to Him with all our heart. May He be with us now and forevermore. Amen.