Thursday, 14 January 2021 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are reminded through the words of the Lord in the Scriptures to be always obedient and faithful to Him and to His commandments, laws and ways. We should not allow ourselves to be swayed and tempted to sin, to do what is against the will of God, against His teachings and ways. As Christians we are all called to be righteous and good in life, and to be exemplary in our actions and way of living at all times.

In our first reading today from the Epistle to the Hebrews, the author reminded the faithful converts among the Jewish people of the rebellion and disobedience of their ancestors, as reiterated in our Psalm today as we heard of the rebellion of the Israelites at Massah and Meribah, which referred to one of the most terrible and wicked rebellion of the Israelites as they at that time still journeyed out of the land of Egypt during their Exodus.

The Israelites remained stubborn and rebellious despite everything that God had done for them, in bringing them out of the land of their slavery and protecting them from the oppression by the Egyptians and their Pharaoh. They refused to believe in Him and put their faith and trust in Him despite all the love that He has shown them, in providing for them with plenty of food, the manna and flocks of birds, with water to drink even as they journeyed through the dry and lifeless desert.

They had been disobedient, rebellious and stubborn, and yet, the Lord still loved them and wanted to care for them. They did test His patience again and again, many times, and suffered punishments and consequences for such deliberate acts of disobedience. Nonetheless, the Lord still led them and guided them patiently until they reached the land that He has promised to them and to their ancestors.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we heard in the Gospel passage today of how the Lord Jesus healed a man of his complaints, his leprosy and his sickness. The Lord showed pity and love for the man, and willingly healed the leper, making him whole once again. The Lord touched the leper and miraculously healed him. This is the love that God has for each and every one of us, and which He has patiently showed us all these while.

The Lord wants us to be healed from our sickness and troubles. However, we are not sick, aren’t we? Many of us are physically well and perfectly healthy. But what I refer to, is the sickness of our sins, our spiritual sickness. For each and every one of us who have sinned, have been afflicted by those sins we committed, and therefore, had been corrupted and made to fall further and further away from the path of the Lord.

But the Lord did not let us all alone by ourselves, or to suffer the consequences of our sins by ourselves. Instead, He extended His loving hands of mercy and His generous love, that each and every one of us may find forgiveness through Him, be reconciled and reunited to Him that we may not perish, but enter into the eternity of happiness and glory that He has always intended for us, from the very beginning, but prevented by our sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore reflect on our way of life and our actions, and think of how we can appreciate better the love that God has constantly showed us, in all the patience He has shown us despite our numerous disobedience and stubbornness. Let us all no longer harden our hearts and be open to receive the Lord into our hearts, and let us all grow to love Him more and more with each and every passing moments.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to bless us all, and may He strengthen us to be ever more faithful in all things, and be ever more courageous in standing up for our faith in the Lord, at all times. May God be our Guide and Light always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 14 January 2021 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 1 : 40-45

At that time, a leper came to Jesus and begged Him, “If You want to, You can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I do want to; be clean.”

The leprosy left the man at once and he was made clean. As Jesus sent the man away, He sternly warned him, “Do not tell anyone about this, but go and show yourself to the priest, and for the cleansing bring the offering ordered by Moses; in this way you will give to them your testimony.”

However, as soon as the man went out, he began spreading the news everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter any town. But even though He stayed in the rural areas, people came to Him from everywhere.

Thursday, 14 January 2021 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 94 : 6-7, 8-9, 10-11

Come and worship; let us bow down, kneel before the Lord, our Maker. He is our God, and we His people; the flock He leads and pastures. Would that today you heard His voice!

Do not be stubborn, as at Meribah, in the desert, on that day at Massah, when your ancestors challenged Me, and they put Me to the test.

For forty years they wearied Me and I said, “They are a people of inconsistent heart; they have not known My ways.” So I declared an oath in My anger, “Never shall they enter My rest.”

Thursday, 14 January 2021 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hebrews 3 : 7-14

Listen to what the Holy Spirit says : If only you would hear God’s voice today! Do not be stubborn, as they were in the place called Rebellion, when your ancestors challenged Me in the desert, although they had seen My deeds for forty years. That is why I was angry with those people and said : Their hearts are always going astray and they do not understand My ways. I was angry and made a solemn vow : They will never enter My rest.

So, brothers, be careful lest some of you come to have an evil and unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. Encourage one another, day by day, as long as it is called today. Let no one become hardened in the deceitful way of sin. We are associated with Christ provided we hold steadfastly to our initial hope until the end.

Thursday, 7 January 2021 : Thursday after Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are reminded yet again that the Lord has fulfilled His promises to us, the promise of deliverance and salvation that He has made and renewed throughout the history of mankind and the world. The Lord sent His deliverance to us all through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. And as Christians, all of us believe in this truth, the same truth that has been preserved through the Church all these time.

In our Gospel reading today, we heard of the moment when the Lord proclaimed the truth of God and the fulfilment of all the wonderful promises of God’s salvation in the synagogue of His own hometown, Nazareth. At that time, the Lord read the prophecy from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and his words, which specifically mentioned what the Messiah or the Saviour would do in order to save the people.

And the Lord Jesus essentially proclaimed the coming of God’s time of grace, His salvation and liberation to all the people. He did not mince His words or hold back anything as He proclaimed God’s truth. He was the Anointed One and the Holy One of God sent into the world to be its Saviour. Through Him all would once again see the light of hope, and a way out of the darkness of sin in this world.

All of these are what we believe in as Christians, that we hold true and strongly to this same truth that the Lord had proclaimed, and which He had then proven through His loving sacrifice on the Cross. The love of God has been made manifest into this world through Christ, and this love was shown to us by the selfless sacrifice and the life-giving action that the Lord had done, in offering up Himself for our sake, for our liberation from sin and for our salvation.

St. John then spoke of this in our first reading today as he elaborated on Christ as the manifestation of God’s love made flesh just as we celebrate it this Christmas season. He also exhorted all Christians to turn towards the Lord with love, that just as He has loved us so generously at first, then we should also love Him to the best of our abilities with our most sincere love, and then show the same love to our fellow brothers and sisters as well.

The Lord has taught us His love and revealed to us what it means for us to love, through His own actions and examples. He has reached out to all of us, especially even to the worst and the most wicked amongst sinners. He has touched us with His love and He has called us to follow Him and His path, but are we willing and able to commit ourselves to this path, brothers and sisters in Christ?

Let us all today therefore look upon the examples of our holy predecessors in how they lived their lives in accordance with God’s ways, such as what was done by St. Raymond of Penyafort, whose feast day we are celebrating today. St. Raymond of Penyafort was a Dominican friar and priest who was the Master of the Order of Preachers or the Dominicans.

St. Raymond of Penyafort dedicated himself, his life and his actions to serve the Lord, compiling the teachings of the faith in the many books and writings that he has written for the many years of his dedicated service. St. Raymond of Penyafort was also committed to the reform of the Church, in his efforts in helping the Church and the leaders like the Pope in leading the faithful to the right path.

Through his efforts and most notably through his renowned miracle, St. Raymond of Penyafort turned many souls towards the Lord. When he worked as the confessor of the king of Aragon, James I, who was infamous for his immoral behaviour, he courageously criticised the king and his actions, which was against the Law of God. He sought to call the king back to his senses and return to the true faith.

When the king still insisted to continue his actions and forbade St. Raymond from leaving the island he was ministering in, he miraculously sailed on his long Dominican robe, and witnessed by many, he made the king to realise the depth and severity of his errors, and the king repented from all his sinful ways. Many others became believers through him and many were inspired by his examples long after his passing.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all devote ourselves to the Lord therefore, filling ourselves with love, the love of God, just as shown by St. Raymond of Penyafort and the many other holy men and women of God. Let us all therefore seek the Lord and do our best as Christians, from now on, that we may lead all souls to Him, Our Lord and most loving Saviour. May God be with us always, and may He bless us in all our good endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 7 January 2021 : Thursday after Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 4 : 14-22a

At that time, Jesus acted with the power of the Spirit; and on His return to Galilee, the news about Him spread throughout all that territory. He began teaching in the synagogue of the Jews and everyone praised Him.

When Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, as He usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed Him the book of the prophet Isaiah.

Jesus then unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written : “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. He has anointed Me, to bring good news to the poor; to proclaim liberty to captives; and new sight to the blind; to free the oppressed; and to announce the Lord’s year of mercy.”

Jesus then rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. Then He said to them, “Today, these prophetic words come true, even as you listen.” All agreed with Him, and were lost in wonder, while He spoke of the grace of God.

Thursday, 7 January 2021 : Thursday after Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 71 : 1-2, 14 and 15bc, 17

God, endow the King with Your justice, the Royal Son with Your righteousness. May He rule Your people justly and defend the rights of the lowly.

He rescues them from oppression and strife, for their life is precious to Him. May people always pray for Him, and blessings be invoked for Him all day.

May His Name endure forever; may His Name be as lasting as the sun. All the races will boast about Him; and He will be praised by all nations.

Thursday, 7 January 2021 : Thursday after Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 4 : 19 – 1 John 5 : 4

So let us love one another, since God loved us first. If you say, “I love God,” while you hate your brother or sister, you are a liar. How can you love God, Whom you do not see, if you do not love your brother, whom you see? We received from Him, this commandment : let those who love God also love their brothers.

All those, who believe that Jesus is the Anointed, are born of God; whoever loves the Father, loves the Son. How may we know, that we love the children of God? If we love God and fulfil His commands, for God’s love requires us to keep His commands. In fact, His commandments are not a burden because all those born of God overcome the world. And the victory, which overcomes the world, is our faith.

Thursday, 31 December 2020 : Seventh Day within Octave of Christmas, Memorial of Pope St. Silvester I, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded of the truth of our Lord’s salvation just as we continue to proceed through this season of Christmas, that He, the Word of God and the Word of truth has come into this world and born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother, to be the Saviour of all. We focus our attention today in His honour, to reorientate ourselves and our lives once again that we may indeed be centred on Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

In our Gospel passage today, we again heard of the same introduction to the Gospel of St. John that we have also heard during the Christmas Mass at daytime and which the Church has once decreed to be read at the last part of the Mass as the Last Gospel. In that passage we heard the proclamation of the unchanging truth of the salvation in the Word of God, Who was with God since the beginning, and Who was God.

And this same Word of God has become the Son, the Son of God Most High, begotten not created, sharing in the divinity of the Father and part of the Holy Trinity. The Word has come down into the world and became Flesh, the Son of God and the Divine Word became Incarnate as the Son of Man through Mary. Through Him we have seen the salvation of God and the love of God has also become tangible and accessible, no longer just a distant promise or hopeful wish.

We celebrate during this Christmas season the manifestation of this love in the Flesh, in Jesus Christ, the true focus and the true reason for all of our rejoicing and celebrations. This is why we need to hold this truth and this realisation with us, with firm conviction and with genuine commitment to the Lord, that despite whatever we may encounter, whatever we may be tempted with, we may remain committed to the path that the Lord has shown us.

The Lord has revealed His salvation to us and all of us have received this assurance and the fulfilment of God’s promise. He has shown that He has not abandoned us in our time of need. In fact, He has reached out to us and reassured us, embracing us even more. But sadly, many of us have not appreciated this love and this care that the Lord has shown us. Instead, we chose to follow the false leads of the false prophets and leaders that led us down the path of disobedience and sin.

This is what St. John also spoke of in our first reading today, as he spoke of the antichrists present all around us. All these antichrists are those who seek to subvert the truth of God and use falsehoods and lies to advance the interest of the evil ones. We have to be careful lest we end up falling into these traps of lies and falsehoods. That is why we have to hold firmly to our faith in God, to His truth and all that He has revealed to us and preserved in His Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all remember at the end of this current year that we should always keep in mind our path in life and take care that we do not fall down the wrong paths. As we look forward to a new year ahead, let us all remind ourselves that the Lord is our sole truth and our sole focus in life, and we should move forward with this being kept in mind all the time.

Today, let us all look at the examples and the life of Pope St. Silvester I, also known as Pope St. Sylvester, so that we may know how we can move forward in life as faithful Christians from now on. Pope St. Silvester was the Pope and therefore leader of the entire Universal Church at a time of great change both for the Church and the world at the time. He succeeded Pope St. Miltiades whose reign as Pope coincided with the end of the official persecution of Christians with the famous Edict of Milan by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great.

Pope St. Silvester I reigned for over two decades during the time of great change and renewal of the Church, as it emerged out of the terrible persecutions of the previous decades and centuries. Pope St. Silvester I guided the Church through all those years, and helped to restore order amidst confusions and the divisions that happened due to the persecutions and the chaos that happened.

There had been many divisions in the Church, especially because of the many false leaders and heretics who misled the faithful to wrong teachings and paths. In the end, many fell and followed those false leaders, and it was Pope St. Silvester I and the many other faithful bishops, priests and leaders of the Church who worked tirelessly in order to restore the truth of God to the Church and the Christian faithful.

This culminated in the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea that happened during the reign of Pope St. Silvester. Although the Pope himself did not attend the Ecumenical Council, but through his legates and representatives, he helped to lead the Church together through the discussions and deliberations, and managed to come together with the canonical and orthodox definition of the faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the life and examples of Pope St. Silvester I, as well as through the concerted effort of the Church leaders at that time in the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, steering the Church and the faithful through the difficult and divisive moments in its history, let us all therefore remind ourselves to keep being faithful to God and hold onto our Christian faith.

Let us all enter into the new year with a new hope, and bring hope to one another, and do our best to live our lives as faithful Christians and be exemplary to each other, that we may inspire more and more people to follow the Lord. And as we are still celebrating the season of Christmas, let us all bring the hope and joy of Christmas, the hope in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to all those who are still suffering and are in the darkness of despair and sorrow this year, that the Light of Christ may heal all of them and bring them to salvation. Amen.

Thursday, 31 December 2020 : Seventh Day within Octave of Christmas, Memorial of Pope St. Silvester I, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 1 : 1-18

In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God; He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing came to be. Whatever has come to be, found life in Him; life, which for human beings, was also light, light that shines in darkness, light that darkness could not overcome.

A man came, sent by God; his name was John. He came to bear witness, as a witness to introduce the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but a witness to introduce the Light; for the Light was coming into the world, the true Light that enlightens everyone. He was in the world, and through Him the world was made, the very world that did not know Him.

He came to His own, yet His own people did not receive Him; but to all who received Him, He empowers to become children of God, for they believe in His Name. These are born, but not by seed, or carnal desire, nor by the will of man : they are born of God.

And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us; and we have seen His glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father : fullness of truth and loving-kindness. John bore witness to Him openly, saying, “This is the One Who comes after me, but He is already ahead of me, for He was before me.”

From His fullness we have all received, favour upon favour. For God had given us the Law through Moses, but Truth and Loving-kindness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God-the-only-Son made Him known : the One, Who is in and with the Father.