Saturday, 23 February 2019 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 9 : 2-13

At that time, six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain. There His appearance was changed before their eyes. Even His clothes shone, becoming as white as no bleach of this world could make them. Elijah and Moses appeared to them; the two were talking with Jesus.

Then Peter spoke and said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say : they were overcome with awe. But a cloud formed, covering them in a shadow, and from the cloud came a voice, “This is My Son, the Beloved; listen to Him.”

And suddenly, as they looked around, they no longer saw anyone except Jesus with them. As they came down the mountain, He ordered them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept this to themselves, although they discussed with one another what ‘to rise from the dead’ could mean.

Finally they asked Him, “Why then do the teachers of the Law say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus answered them, “Of course Elijah will come first, so that everything may be as it should be. But why do the Scriptures say that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be despised? I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they have treated him as they pleased, as the Scriptures say of him.”

Monday, 6 August 2018 : Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, celebrating the moment when Our Lord Jesus Christ was glorified and revealed the full truth about Himself, as the Son of Man Who is also the Son of God, fully Man and fully Divine. On that day, at the peak of Mount Tabor, the full truth about Christ’s nature was revealed to all of us through His disciples, St. Peter, St. James and St. John.

The Lord revealed that He was not just like that of any other prophets or messengers of God who preceded Him. In fact, He is God Himself Who incarnated Himself in the flesh of Man through the will of the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit, via the womb of His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. He is fully God, for His divinity was never diminished by His assumption of humanity, and He is also fully Man, experiencing all that we experience save that for sin.

And He is truly the Messiah long awaited by the people of God, to whom God promised the coming of His deliverance. The appearance of Moses and Elijah, among the greatest and most prominent ones among God’s servants affirmed this truth. For Moses represented the Law of God, which He gave to His people through Moses, and Jesus is the fulfilment of the Law, while Elijah represented the prophets of God, and as mentioned, the prophecies were all fulfilled in Him.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what is the significance about this event of the Transfiguration of the Lord today? It is aplenty, especially for all of us. Now, let us all remember that I just mentioned how the Lord Jesus is fully God and fully Man, united in His one person, indivisible and yet distinct. And by sharing fully in our humanity, save for that of sin, He has shown us all, who we are expected to become, to be the perfect Man, free from sin and from all chains that prevented us from becoming what God intended for us to be.

For God certainly never intended for any one of us to enter into suffering or trials in this world, and neither did He intend for us to be condemned into hell. We have been created to partake in the fullness of God’s love, shared freely with each and every one of us. Unfortunately, our disobedience led us to sin, and sin caused us to be separated and sundered from this grace and love of God.

That is why, it is imperative that each and every one of us take the necessary steps to ensure that we are moving towards that ideal and perfect state, which can be achieved only through faith and total commitment towards God. And this means that we should walk in God’s path and devote ourselves to do His will, in each and every action we take in life. It is important that we adhere to this, or otherwise, we may be distracted and fall off the path due to the temptations and challenges we face in life.

And then, it is also important we take note how we will encounter difficulties and challenges in our lives, especially if we should choose to commit ourselves to God. The same challenges and persecution have been faced by the Lord Himself, as He faced many opposition and obstacles to His works among His people. He was rejected and condemned by the priests and by the Pharisees, and many others refused to listen to Him or to believe Him.

But the Lord did not let His glory to impede Him from fulfilling His mission. He went down the mountain despite the desire of the three disciples to remain in the blissful glory on Mount Tabor. He and His disciples went down the mountain, eventually heading towards His Passion, suffering and most painful death, all so that each and every one of us, through the ultimate sacrifice Christ paid on the cross, may have life and eternal glory with Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all today first of all rejoice because God is so loving and so merciful towards each and every one of us, that He has given us the perfect gift of His Son, through Whom the truth about our salvation has been revealed to us. And then, let us all know the sacrifices and difficulties that each and every one of us may have to face in the midst of living our lives as good Christians.

Let us all face those challenges with courage and strength, just as the resolution shown by the Lord, when He chose to come down the mountain of His glory, and down towards His crucifixion and death. Let us all follow the examples and the humility of Our Lord, in obeying fully the will of God, and by doing what He has told us to do, we may bring ourselves ever closer to Him and keep ourselves ever steady on His path, to the time when He calls us back to Himself. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 6 August 2018 : Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 28b-36

At that time, Jesus took Peter, John and James, and went up the mountain to pray. And while He was praying, the aspect of His face was changed, and His clothing became dazzling white. Two men were taking with Jesus : Moses and Elijah. Appearing in the glory of heaven, Moses and Elijah spoke to Jesus about His departure from this life, which was to take place in Jerusalem.

Peter and His companions had fallen asleep; but they awoke suddenly, and they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. As Moses and Elijah were about to leave, Peter – not knowing what to say – said to Jesus, “Master, how good it is for us to be here! Let us make three tents, one for You, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

And no sooner had he spoken, than a cloud appeared and covered them; and the disciples were afraid as they entered the cloud. Then these words came from the cloud, “This is My Son, My Beloved, listen to Him.” And after the voice had spoken, Jesus was there alone. The disciples kept this to themselves at the time, telling no one of anything they had seen.

Monday, 6 August 2018 : Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 96 : 1-2, 5-6, 9

YHVH reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Clouds and darkness surround Him; justice and right, are His throne.

The mountains melt like wax before YHVH, the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory.

For You are the Master of the universe, exalted far above all gods.

Monday, 6 August 2018 : Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Daniel 7 : 9-10, 13-14

I looked and saw the following : Some thrones were set in place and One of Great Age took His seat. His robe was white, as snow, His hair, white as washed wool. His throne was flames of fire with wheels of blazing fire. A river of fire sprang forth and flowed before Him. Thousands upon thousands served Him and a countless multitude stood before Him.

Those in the tribunal took their seats and opened the book. I continued watching the nocturnal vision : One like a Son of Man came on the clouds of heaven. He faced the One of Great Age and was brought into His presence. Dominion, honour and kingship were given Him, and all the peoples and nations of every language served Him. His dominion is eternal and shall never pass away; His kingdom will never be destroyed.

Alternative reading

2 Peter 1 : 16-19

Indeed, what we taught you about the power, and the return of Christ Jesus our Lord, was not drawn from myths or formulated theories. We, ourselves, were eyewitnesses of His majesty, when He received glory and honour from God, the Father, when, from the magnificent glory, this most extraordinary word came upon Him : “This is My beloved Son, this is My Chosen One.”

We, ourselves, heard this voice from heaven, when we were with Him on the holy mountain. Therefore, we believe most firmly in the message of the prophets, which you should consider rightly, as a lamp shining in a dark place, until the break of day, when the Morning Star shines in your hearts.

Sunday, 6 August 2017 : Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time and the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, we celebrate not just the Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, but also the great occasion of the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. On this occasion, we remember the time when our Lord Jesus Christ was revealed in the fullness of His glory and divinity before His disciples at the Mount Tabor, in the presence of three of His disciples, St. Peter, St. James and St. John.

The occasion the Transfiguration of the Lord is truly rich with numerous symbolisms that are very significant to our faith, as it is a great revelation of not only just Who our Lord Jesus truly was, but also what the purpose of His coming into this world was, and He also showed us all an example of what all of us as Christians must do in our own respective lives.

First of all, the Transfiguration was the moment when Jesus revealed the fullness of His divine glory before mankind, represented by His own Apostles. It was where He revealed that He was not just merely a Man, the Son of Man, but instead, He was also at the same time, the Divine Son of God, Who was incarnate in the flesh through His mother Mary. Thus, Christ has two natures, Man and Divine, perfectly united in the person of Jesus Christ.

He revealed the fullness of His divine glory, as the Son of God and Saviour of all, Who then met with Moses and Elijah during that moment of Transfiguration, another important revelation and symbolism that all of us should take note of. Moses and Elijah each represents the two important tenets and aspects of the faith, namely the Law of God, for Moses was the one through whom God made known His laws to His people, while Elijah represents the prophets of God, who laboured to reveal and teach the Word of God to the people.

This is an important representation of Christ as the embodiment and fulfilment of both the Law and the Prophecies of the prophets. The Law of God was made perfect in Christ, Who revealed to His people the true meaning of the Law, teaching them what is the true purpose of the Law and how all of us mankind are able to live according to the Law, in order to love the Lord our God, by loving our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Then, Christ is also the the perfect fulfilment of the prophecies which had been spoken by the many prophets and messengers of God, through whom God had made known His will to His people across the ages. God has promised His salvation to His people, to redeem them from the chains of sin. This is a promise which He had made from the beginning of time, from when our first ancestors first sinned against Him because of the temptation by Satan.

And thus, Jesus Christ our Lord was born through the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother, to be the One through Whom God would fulfil His long promised salvation, and as the keystone and centrepiece in the entirety of God's grand plan of salvation and liberation for us all, His most beloved people. It was through His loving sacrifice on the cross, bearing the burden of our sins and faults that He has shown this love for us, and it is through the cross that God brought us all a new hope in Him.

Mankind have long lived in the darkness, the darkness of ignorance and the darkness of their sins and disobedience against God. The lies and wickedness of the devil have covered us, and we have been corrupted by those sins and faults which we committed in life. But deep in our hearts, all of us truly groaned for the opportunity and filled with the hope that one day all of us can be freed from the tyranny of sin and evil. And yet, it is too often that temptations of the world and the persuasions of the devil and his allies have kept us from being able to listen to this desire, the desire for us to receive God's salvation and be freed.

Thus, to all those who have seen the glory of the Lord Jesus Transfigured before their eyes, they must have seen in Him the long awaited promise of God, through the piercing light and the exceedingly bright white garments and the Body of the Lord that shone forth, as God is the True Light, Light of the world, Whose light penetrates the darkness of evil and wickedness, and Whose light is terror to evildoers and wicked people, yet a tender and loving source of hope for all those who cling on to hope in Him.

The Lord showed through His Transfiguration a glimpse into our own future state of grace, for all of us are indeed called to become like Christ, and all of us who have made ourselves worthy through our actions and deeds in life, will receive God's grace and love, and we will be, in accordance with the words of the Scriptures, transformed wholly, body and soul, our entire being, to be like the Lord, and to rejoice and share with Him in His glory forevermore.

Just as the Lord had assumed the flesh of Man by coming down upon us through Jesus Christ our Lord, therefore, by assuming His humanity, He has united us all to Him, all of us who seek Him and desire to be with Him, and just as He is glorified in His Transfiguration, we too shall also be glorified together with Him, at the time when He will come again to gather all of those whom He deems to be worthy of Him and His grace.

To us, the best examples of how we can best understand this is like that of the saints of the Church, whose deeds and actions in life are still remembered and honoured even to this very day. The saints shone with glory and greatness, but not because of their own greatness and power, but because they shine with the glory of God and the righteousness found in them. They lived in accordance with God's will and therefore, God glorified them all and lifted them up to share with Him the glory of heaven.

The saints are like the stained glass in our churches. The stained glass on their own without light do not look beautiful or shiny, and they are just like any other glass, dark and devoid of goodness. Yet, when light shines upon them and pass through them, all of us who see the light through the stained glass see the great beauty of the stained glass, just as the saints were glorified because of what God had done through them in this world.

This Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord is a reminder to all of us that God is calling us to be thoroughly transformed in our respective lives, to adhere faithfully to His ways and obey His laws wholeheartedly. We are called to walk in the footsteps of the saints and martyrs who have preceded us, and now are in the glory of heaven. They were themselves once sinners too, just like us, and yet, they listened to the Lord speaking in their hearts, calling them to righteousness.

And they responded with action, following the Lord and obeying Him, just as God reminded His disciples, that Jesus, is His Beloved Son, and that they ought to listen to Him. That is how the saints end up where they are now, because they followed the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, and they made themselves to be His faithful servants through which He exercised His good works among His people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all no longer be trapped in the darkness of sin, and strive to be freed from the chains of slavery, the slavery of sin and worldly desires, the chains of greed and hatred, of jealousy and anger, all of which had weighed us down and threatened to bring us down into the damnation in hell. Let us all instead put our trust in the Transfigured Lord, He Who had revealed His truth to us, so that we may know it, and see through Him, what we will become should we walk in His footsteps.

Yet, let us not forget, that the story of the Transfiguration of our Lord ended with a stark reminder for us, that we must not be complacent nor must we expect a life that is easy and without challenges. The three Apostles, St. Peter, St. James and St. John wanted to stay on at the Mount Tabor, in the glory of the Transfigured Christ. They wanted to pitch tents for the Lord, Moses and Elijah, so that they might continue to revel in the glory of the Lord.

But, the Lord did not have it that way. He knew that He had to go down the mountain, leaving behind His glory and the moment of His glorious revealing in His Transfiguration. He knew that going down the mountain would mean travelling on to Jerusalem and from then on to suffer the Passion, bearing the heavy cross on His shoulders, on which was laid the burdens of all of mankind's sins and faults.

Nonetheless, He went on, going down the mountain, showing His disciples by example, that firstly, for the sake of His love for His people, He was willing to shed away all of the glory of His divinity to be ridiculed and mocked, to be scourged and battered with blows, all for the sake of His love for us. Who else would have been willing to endure such punishment for our sake?

And He showed perfect humility and obedience to the will of God, His Father. All other men would have succumbed to the temptation of power and worldly glory, as Christ stood up there on the mountain, the temptation must have been great for Him to show forth His might unto the world. Yet, He humbly stepped down from that glory, and as shown in various other occasions, He always listened to the will of God His Father, and obeyed Him, even unto taking up the cross and dying for us.

Are we all able to imitate the examples of Christ in that manner? Many of us are too proud and filled with personal ego and desires, to be able to submit to the will of God. Instead, we want to bring glory to ourselves, and to gain good things for ourselves, often at the expense of others who have to suffer because of our desires and greed. This is what we cannot do, brothers and sisters in Christ. All of us must seek to be humble as Christ was, and allow God to enter into our hearts that we may be transformed.

It is often that we close our hearts to the Lord because of that pride, as we are unable to admit that we have been wrong or mistaken in our ways, that we have been sinful and wicked in our deeds. Yet, if we continue to harden our hearts, the only ones who will lose will be us, as we will end up persisting in our ways of sin. We should instead pray for the grace of humility, to listen obediently to the word of God and know His will, and what it is that He wants us to do. We should throw away the shackles placed on us by our pride and ego, and seek to become more like Christ day after day.

May the Lord, Who in His glorious Transfiguration has revealed to us the truth about Himself, help us to be ever closer to Him, to be more like Him day after day, that we will be transformed completely from the creatures of darkness we were once, to be the glorious children of God, worthy of Him and the eternal glory He has prepared for us, to be like the holy men and women, the holy saints who have gone before us to the eternal glory of God. Amen.

Sunday, 6 August 2017 : Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time and the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 17 : 1-9

At that time, six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James, and his brother John, and led them up a high mountain, where they were alone. Jesus' appearance was changed before them : His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as snow. Then suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Jesus.

Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here. If You wish, I will make three tents : one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." Peter was still speaking, when a bright cloud covered them with its shadow; and a voice from the cloud said, "This is My Son, the Beloved, My Chosen One. Listen to Him."

On hearing the voice, the disciples fell to the ground, full of fear. But Jesus came, touched them, and said, "Stand up, do not be afraid!" When they raised their eyes, they no longer saw anyone except Jesus. And as they came down the mountain, Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man be raised from the dead.