Thursday, 6 March 2014 : Thursday after Ash Wednesday (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, carrying one’s cross is the thing which most of us did not want to do, and we refused to do so even after the Lord made it clear what He wanted from us. We prefer to enjoy the pleasures of this world rather than following the Lord, and we prefer the ways of Satan to the way of Christ.

The path of the Lord is not an easy one, and there will be lots of suffering and challenges, as Satan owns this world, and he works his plots and attacks against God and His people through that same world, the one where we are living at the moment. But even though the path of the Lord is not an easy one, at the end of the way is happiness and blessing, such as what God had promised His people in the first reading today, if they kept His commandments and walked in His ways.

On the other hand, the path of Satan appears to be an easier and a much better one, because it seems that this path has much fewer obstacles and challenges facing us, as compared to that of the path of the Lord. But the pleasures and happiness with which the devil had spiced up his path are not true happiness and joy. These are illusions and attempts to replicate true happiness that exists only in God.

And brethren, you all know what awaits at the end of the path of Satan, that is death, and not just the kind of death that we know of, but eternal death. That is because the Lord, as He also said to the people in the first reading, will withdraw His blessing and instead His curse will hang over the people should they fail to follow His commandments and disobeyed His will.

If we choose to follow the path of evil, and choose the apparently easier path, then we are dooming ourselves. That is because in doing so, we reject the Lord and His love, rejecting the blessing of eternal life which He had promised for all those who remain faithful to Him and those who dedicate themselves to Him. We certainly do not want ourselves to end up this way, do we not?

Perseverance is the key, brothers and sisters in Christ. If we are to receive the blessings of Almighty God, then we ought to persevere in our faith. We cannot take our faith for granted, and neither should we take for granted the salvation which God had promised us all who believe in Him. Our faith must be living and genuine, and we must keep in mind always, that our faith must indeed be like carrying the cross, our own crosses, imitating what Jesus had done as He went on His Passion to save us.

Yes, brethren, if we want to follow the Lord and walk in His ways, then we should be ready to bear the burden of being His faithful ones. There will be opposition and even mockery, and there will be those who will look down on us because of our choice. But if we are to persevere and keep strong our faith, then we will persevere. Shall we choose the easy way out, a good life in this world, and yet in the end, be thrown into eternal suffering?

It is not wrong, brothers and sisters, to enjoy our life in this world, but it also means that we cannot just enjoy and do nothing else. We cannot just enjoy the pleasures and happiness of this world, without doing anything in accordance to the will of God. In fact, the more we immerse ourselves in the joy of this world, the less likely we are to act in the way that is pleasing to God. We have to be always mindful of this and keep a steady balance in our life.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is imperative for us to carry our cross, not literally or figuratively, but to do what is right and what is according to the will of God, that we may endure together as one, the suffering of Christ, and therefore understand the love that God had for us all, so much that He gave us Himself and His own life, that we all may live.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this Lenten season, let us maximise the time and opportunity that we have, so that we may seek to devote ourselves more and more to the Lord, and if necessary, changing our ways that we may once again walk in the way of the Lord, and no longer following the devil into his rebellion. May God our Lord and our loving Father continue to bless us, watch over us, and protect us as we walk with Jesus His Son, towards our salvation and eternal glory. Amen.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God our Lord is also our Father, and He cares deeply for all of us without exception. He blesses us with many things good and makes sure that all of us have enough for our daily lives. He strengthens us when we are weak, and supports us when we are down. He protects us from harm and delivers us from the evil one. The Lord has shown His power on the day when He saved the people of Israel from their bondage in Egypt.

With His powerful breath and His hand, He split open the Red Sea before His people, allowing them to pass through the dry sea, towards their freedom, towards the Promised Land He promised to His people and their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He raised them up from their slavery to be His beloved people, with power and majesty, as wielded by the greatest of their kings, David and Solomon, whose kingdom passed to Jesus, the descendant of David and the Son of God, the Saviour.

Those who remain in His love and favour will indeed receive much love and grace from our Lord, and their lives will be blessed. No one will be able to harm them, and they will live long and prosper until the day that the Lord calls them again to His side. But to those who disobey His will, and to those who had brought up the anger of the Lord, they will be cast aside into the lake of fire and eternal suffering with Satan and his fallen angels, all the evils of the world, because they will be judged and found unworthy of the Lord and His perfection.

Yet, many of us today have forgotten what it actually means to be the children of God, the same God who had delivered the people of Israel from the hands of the Egyptians. We have forgotten what it means to serve the Lord, and we have turned away from His truth and His path, that we are in danger of veering off into the path towards damnation in hell.

Throughout history of salvation, the history of mankind and the history of the people of Israel, countless prophets sent by the Lord had been slaughtered and murdered by the people who preferred to continue living in the state of sin rather than repenting and returning to the Lord their God. They worshiped pagan gods and did things abominable in the eyes of God. The warnings and the prophecies of prophets they had ignored, until the Lord brought plague upon them as punishment and ultimately scattered them among the nations.

The people who had been brought away from Egypt and their slavery upon the eagle’s wings had hardened their hearts against the very One who had saved them. They rebelled constantly and continued to do things horrible in the eyes of God. They turned deaf ears to the heeding of the prophets and messengers of the Lord. And eventually, they too would turn their backs against the One that the Lord Himself had sent, that is Himself in human form, Jesus Christ, the very Messiah that the prophets had been proclaiming and the very One that the people of Israel had supposedly awaited for.

Yet He remained ever faithful to us, despite all our numerous and countless transgressions against Him, despite all the evils we have committed that is loathsome in His eyes. Such is His compassion and mercy, that He is willing to welcome us back despite our faults. But yet, we must not continue what the people had done all those while brothers and sisters, because, there is a limit to God’s patience, and He is also a jealous God and a God of justice, who will not let transgressions, when done without regard for the Lord, to go free easily.

Today, brethren, we also commemorate the feast of St. Bridget of Sweden, a pious and faithful religious who lived more than six hundred years ago, and she is one of the six patron saints of Europe. She established religious order now known as the Brigittines, and she received many visions on the Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary, and through these visions, the Church and the faithful had been indeed blessed with greater understanding of the Lord and His mission, that is to save all mankind from death and hell, just as He had once saved the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt.

To St. Bridget had been given the visions and knowledge of God, just as the Lord had given to the prophets of the past, so that we may also know Him and seek to return to Him, sinning no more and begin earnestly our path to salvation. Let us follow the Lord and His ways, and earnestly begin our path to salvation, by offering the Lord our repentance and our contrite hearts.

With inspiration of the examples made by St. Bridget and many other saints and holy men and women of God, let us go forth and proclaim Christ our Lord to all the nations, the Christ our Lord who died for our sake, as the Lamb of sacrifice, whose Blood saves all mankind from their fate that is death. Death no longer has any power over us who believe in Christ and His saving power, just as the Pharaoh no longer had any power over the Israelites after the Lord saved them from the land of Egypt. He smote Satan just as He had smitten the Pharaoh and the people of Egypt. How great is His love for us indeed! Amen.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Matthew 7 : 6, 12-14

Do not give what is holy to the dogs, or throw your pearls to the pigs : they might trample on them, and even turn on you and tear you to pieces.

So, do to others whatever you would that others do to you : there you have the Law and the Prophets. Enter through the narrow gate : for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many go that way. How narrow is the gate that leads to life, and how rough the road; few there are who find it.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Sts. Christopher Magallanes, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Sirach 2 : 1-13

My son, if you have decided to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials. Keep your heart upright and remain resolute; do not be upset in the time of adversity. Hold fast to the Lord, do not separate yourself from Him so that you may be successful to the end of your days.

Accept all that happens to you, be patient when you are humbled, for as gold is tested in the fire, so those acceptable to God are tested in the crucible of humiliation. Have confidence in Him and He will take care of you; follow the right path and hope in Him.

You, who fear the Lord, wait for His mercy and do not turn away lest you fall. You who fear the Lord, trust Him and you will not lose your reward. You who fear the Lord, hope for all good things; hope for eternal joy and mercy.

Remember what happened to your ancestors. Who has ever trusted in the Lord and been confounded? Who has persevered in fear of the Lord and been abandoned? Who has called upon Him and not been heard? For the Lord is compassion and loving-kindness; He forgives our sins and saves us in time of distress.

Thursday, 16 May 2013 : 7th Week of Easter (Psalm)

Psalm 15 : 1-2a and 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11

Keep me safe, o God, for in You I take refuge. I say to the Lord, You are my God. O Lord, my inheritance and my cup, my chosen portion – hold secure my lot.

I bless the Lord who counsels me; even at night my inmost self instructs me. I keep the Lord always before me; for with Him at my right hand, I will never be shaken.

My heart, therefore, exults, my soul rejoices; my body too will rest assured. For You will not abandon my soul to the grave, nor will You suffer Your Holy One to see decay in the land of the dead.

You will show me the path of life, in Your presence the fullness of joy, at Your right hand happiness forever.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013 : 6th Week of Easter (Scripture Reflection)

Follow the Lord! For He is justice and truth embodied!

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear the word of God, proclaiming that in Christ our Lord, lays true justice and the truth itself, however hard it is for this evil-laden world to comprehend and accept. Even among us, there are many who still do not believe truly in God, and put our trust in His justice and have faith in the truths He had taught us through His apostles.

For Christ is our great judge, who will judge every being and every mankind at the end of time, when it is time once again for Him to descend onto this world in His glorious Second Coming, when He will vindicate all who keep their faith in Him and do not give it up for the temptations and seductions of the evil one. He will reward all those who remain faithful in Him, and punish all those who stray from His way, the true way, the path of salvation.

This great judgment will separate the good ones from the bad ones, the worthy ones from the unworthy ones, like the harvester separate the good wheat from the chaff and the husks, and like the shepherd separating the goat from the sheep. So will all of us be separated based on our virtues, and whether we have faithfully kept God’s commandments in our deeds and in our daily lives.

Would we want to be separated as the bad goats as compared to be like the good sheep? Would we want to endure the eternal suffering of separation from God and His infinite love? Never forget that the true suffering in hell is not the physical fire and the torture of the flesh that is always depicted in the secular illustrations, but hell is in fact a state of eternal damnation and suffering when one is truly, completely, and forever separated from God.

It is difficult to believe in God, especially in our increasingly secular world today, as God becomes ever more distant in mankind’s hearts, when world’s increasingly seductive temptations exert greater and ever greater pull on many, steering them away from the true faith and from the righteous path in Christ. This is why the world is sinful, and it is most sinful in what is called disbelief. Not only because it has not believed in God, and had rejected the One whom God had sent, but also that it had made many to lose their faith and belief in God, because it has offered the falsehoods that Satan has offered.

Let us not be perturbed, my brethren. Let us not be shaken in our faith, and doubt our God not for even a single moment, for He is constant, and He is faithful. He is God who keeps His promises, who loves those who also love Him, and those who obey the commandments He had set, and those who follow in His way. Remember, the path of Satan, and what the deceiver offers us, may look good, but it offers only temporal satisfaction. Remember Adam and Eve, our ancestors.

True salvation, true joy, and true glory lie only in God, our one and only God and Lord. To no other being should we bend our knee to in worship, other than to He who had come down from heaven, who had lived amongst us, who died for us, that we may live, and who had risen in glory, in triumph, and conquered death. Amen.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013 : 6th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

John 16 : 5-11

But now I am going to the One who sent Me, and none of you asks Me where I am going; instead you are overcome with grief, because of what I have said. Believe Me, it is better for you that I go away, because as long as I do not leave, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go away, it is to send Him to you, and when He comes, He will vindicate the truth before a sinful world; and He will vindicate the paths of righteousness and justice.

What is the world’s sin, in regard to Me? Disbelief. What is the path of righteousness? It is the path I walk, by which I go to the Father; and you shall see Me no more. What is the path of justice? It is the path on which the prince of this world will always stand condemned.