Sunday, 11 June 2017 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday and Feast of St. Barnabas, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we celebrate the great occasion of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, one of the centrepiece of our faith, and yet one which is also often misunderstood by many people, both by those who are outside the Church, and even among Christians like us. How many of us truly know what is the Holy Trinity and how important it is for us Christians?

Imagine, brothers and sisters in Christ, if someone is to come to us and ask us, questions such as what kind of God do we believe in, or what is the Holy Trinity which Christians believe in, are we able to give them an accurate and reliable answer based on our knowledge of the Holy Trinity? It is often that, we realise that not only that in many occasions, Christians are taken aback by such questions, as we often take for granted what we believe in, and we do not take the effort needed to understand better what is the mystery and truth of our God.

What if someone is to ask us why we believe in three Gods or three separate divine Beings, or if someone else indeed accuse us of being false to our supposedly monotheistic faith because we believe in three Gods? It is truly a reality that there are quite a few people who do not truly understand our Christian faith, who thought that we worship three distinct Gods, in the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and therefore, we do not believe in the One and only God, Creator and Master of all the universe.

But all of them were born out of misinformation, misunderstanding and the lack of true knowledge of what our Christian faith is. We have received the fullness of truth, and therefore, the ultimate truth of God, and the One Who had revealed it was none other than God Himself, through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. And Jesus Himself had made known to His disciples on more than one occasion, that only He alone knows the truth about God, for no one who did not come from the Lord would know the truth. Because Jesus Himself is God, certainly He has the full knowledge of truth.

And what is this truth, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is what all of us Christians need to know, for it lies at the very centre of our faith, at the very heart of all that we believe in Christ. First of all, we all believe in the One and only One True God, Who is beyond compare and Almighty, and there is no other god besides Him. All the other gods and deities are pagans and of false origins, for it is the Lord our God Who is the Creator of everything in the universe, and therefore He is the Master of all.

Then, secondly, we believe that while there is only One and only One God, but that same God has in existence three distinct Divine Persons, namely the Father, the Son and then the Holy Spirit. The Father is not the Son and not the Holy Spirit, and vice versa, the Son is not the Father or the Holy Spirit, and thus, the Holy Spirit is also not the Son, or the Father. Each of the three Divine Persons are distinct, and yet at the same time, they are indivisible and inseparable from each other.

For all the three Divine Persons of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit all form the indivisible unity of the One and only God, the Creator, Lord and Master of all the universe. Without any one of the three Divine Persons, the whole unity of Divinity will be imperfect, and truly, we cannot separate one from the other without disrupting and distorting completely the truth about the Lord our God, in Whom we believe.

If you find this explanation to be difficult, it is perfectly understandable, for all these things have been revealed to us by the Lord, as matters that are beyond our normal human and worldly understanding. These are supernatural and spiritual matter which our senses cannot identify and distinguish directly, and therefore, our faith in what the Lord had told us is important.

And how did we know about all of these? How did we receive all of these truths? It is because all of these truths, the teachings of our faith and all that the Lord Jesus has revealed to us mankind through His disciples have been preserved through the Holy Mother Church, to which we belong to. It was through the Church that we have received our faith, for it had preserved the truth via its sacred traditions, and through the compilation of the sacred texts and Gospels into what we now know as the Holy Bible.

And the saints who have preceded us have also taught us in various ways on how to understand the concept of the Holy Trinity, most famous of which was done by St. Patrick, the well known patron saint of Ireland, who was a great missionary that laid the foundation of the faith in Ireland, formerly a deeply pagan country, worshipping pagan idols and gods, but ever since St. Patrick brought them the truth of God, many and eventually all of them converted to the true faith.

St. Patrick used the example of a three-leaf clover, which is a common plant easily found in Ireland. The three-leaf clover is a unique leaf, which leaf blade does not consist of just one singular leaf, or many leaves joined together by their leaf stalks. Instead, the three-leaf clover has its leaves consisting of three leaf blades that are at the same time conjoined together into a singular leaf. Thus, just like the Holy Trinity, each of the three leaf blades are distinct from each other, and one can see that there are indeed three leaves, and yet, at the same time, there is as a whole, only one leaf.

We cannot detach any one part of the three-leaf clover and still call it a three-leaf clover. A three-leaf clover is only so when all the three leaf parts are attached and intact. In the similar way, we cannot separate any parts of the Most Holy Trinity, the Father from the Son or from the Holy Spirit, and vice versa. They are three Divine Persons, distinct from each other, and yet part of a perfect and indivisible unity as part of a singular and One Godhood.

Using another example, which Jesus had used in His parables, we can also liken the Holy Trinity to salt and light of a candle. How do we know that a certain substance is salt, and not some other substances? That is because, first of all, when we touch salt, it has its crystalline structure, which is clearly different from for example sugar, and even other crystalline sugars like rock sugars and crystal sugars.

And then, when we look at salt, its appearance can be distinguished from that of other substances. We will know if something is not salt by the appearance, and also by the shape and the feel of the crystalline structure as mentioned. And finally, we can taste the salt. Salt has that saltiness taste that makes it to be so useful and favourable by many cultures. Without that saltiness, salt is useless.

Similarly, with regards to flame and candles, the flame provides light to all who sees it, as well as heat. In the past, people do not have electricity as we have nowadays. Therefore, at nighttime, people always live in darkness, and they use the lighted candles to give them light, in order to allow them to do their night activities. And there is no source of heat beside flame, for which reason in winter time or in cold night, people warm themselves around fireplaces and bonfires.

A flame consists of its light, its heat and finally its shape. If a flame has lost its heat, or somehow is devoid of heat, can we still call it as a flame? Surely not. Similarly, if a flame no longer emits light, and therefore cannot be seen, is it still a flame? Certainly it is not either. Therefore, it is the same with the Holy Trinity, for our Lord and God consists of the three Divine Persons that are distinct as much as the heat, light and the shape of the flame is different from each other, and inseparable from each other forming a perfect and indivisible union.

And how is our belief in the Most Holy Trinity important to us as Christians? That is because the whole history of our salvation and creation has been made possible by the works of God, Who is in everything and has been present in everything. The Father willed all things into creation, while the Word of God, the Son, is what the Father used to will all things into being, for example, as He said the words, “Let there be light.”

And the Holy Spirit is in everything, the source of all creation, of all life, through which God made all things into being and possible. The three Divine Persons are at work throughout our creation and our salvation. The Father loves each and every one of us whom He had created, and as the Gospel mentioned today, that because of that love, He sent to us His only begotten Son, the Word of God, Who took up the flesh and nature of Man, and became Man for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Through our Lord Jesus, His loving sacrifice on the cross, and by His giving of His own Precious Body and Blood for all of us, He has united all of us, those who believe in Him, to Him, and He is present in all of us, which He affirmed to us, by sending us all, the same Holy Spirit which is part of Him, Who is in us now, giving us the strength and courage to go on living our lives with faith.

All of us have therefore been sealed with the seal of the Most Holy Trinity, of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, beginning with our baptism, be it as babies or as adults, when we were baptised in Their Name. And the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Confirmation, see the Lord Himself dwelling in each and every one of us, who have become the Temple of His Most Holy Presence.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, now that we know what the Holy Trinity of our Lord is truly about, and how we ought to explain it to others who are misinformed or are curious about it, and how they have worked together in creation and our salvation, as Christians, all of us are tasked to fulfil what the Lord had commanded us all, that is to call all peoples and all the nations, and baptise them in the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

As such, all of us need to be exemplary in our faith, to do what He has taught us to do, to love Him with all of our heart, and by showing genuine devotion, spending our time with the Lord Who has loved us so much, that He gave us His only Son. And by following in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus, by being humble and obedient, let us all show all the others, especially those who have yet to know about the Lord, that they too, hopefully will also be touched in their hearts, and come to believe in Him.

It is too often that Christians are divided against each other, and we are easily affected by our ego and conflicting human desires, that we bring even suffering and difficulties to our fellow men, even to fellow Christians. If our Lord and God is perfectly united in love, Three Divine Persons as One, then how can we call ourselves as Christians if we do not love one another and are divided against each other?

Let us all thus put our complete trust in the Most Holy Trinity, and as Christians, strive to do our best to glorify Their great and glorious Name. Let us be united with one another and not be divided, and remain as one people, just as They are One. Let us all be exemplary in all of our actions and deeds, and let us all renew our commitment to live faithfully, beginning from ourselves, and then to our families and communities, that more and more people will believe in the Most Holy Trinity, and receive salvation through that faith. May God, the Most Holy Trinity, bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 11 June 2017 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday and Feast of St. Barnabas, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
John 3 : 16-18

At that time, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through Him the world is to be saved.”

“Whoever believes in Him will not be condemned. He who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God.”

Sunday, 11 June 2017 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday and Feast of St. Barnabas, Apostle (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
2 Corinthians 13 : 11-13

Finally, brothers and sisters, be happy, strive to be perfect, have courage, be of one mind and live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.

The grace of Christ Jesus the Lord, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Sunday, 11 June 2017 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday and Feast of St. Barnabas, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Daniel 3 : 52, 53, 54, 55, 56

Blessed are You, Lord, God of our fathers, be praised and exalted forever. Blessed is Your holy and glorious Name, celebrated and exalted forever.

Blessed are You in the Temple of Your sacred glory, Your praises are sung forever.

Blessed are You on the throne of Your kingdom, honoured and glorified forever.

Blessed are You Who fathom the depths, Who are enthroned on the Cherubim, praised and exalted forever.

Blessed are You in the firmament of heaven, praised and glorified forever.

Sunday, 11 June 2017 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday and Feast of St. Barnabas, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Exodus 34 : 4b-6, 8-9

Then Moses rose early in the morning and went up Mount Sinai as YHVH had commanded, taking in his hands the two slabs of stone. And YHVH came down in a cloud and stood there with him, and Moses called on the Name of YHVH.

Then YHVH passed in front of him and cried out, “YHVH, YHVH is a God full of pity and mercy, slow to anger and abounding in truth and loving-kindness.”

Moses hastened to bow down to the ground and worshipped. He then said, “If You really look kindly on me, my Lord, please come and walk in our midst and even though we are a stiff-necked people, pardon our wickedness and our sin and make us Yours.”

Tuesday, 24 May 2016 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians and our Lady of Sheshen in China, World Day of Prayer for the Church in China (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Marian Feasts)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we commemorate the feast of our Lady of Sheshan or Sheshen, a major Marian devotion in China, as well as the feast of Mary herself as the Help of all Christians. This is of a particular importance as on this day, we commit ourselves together as the whole Church, to pray for our brethren, the faithful people of God now suffering persecution, whether legally or subtly, because they are faithful to the Lord and to His teachings.

Before we go on with regards to this matter, we have to first understand about the condition and the background of the situation of the Church and the faithful in China itself. The Church and the faithful in China had endured a long and difficult period of persecution and challenges ever since the Communists won the Chinese Civil War in 1949 and took over the control over mainland China.

At first, the officially atheistic and anti-Christian Communist government and officials openly persecuted the Church of God and the faithful people of God. They were harassed, attacked at every turn and opportunity, and their persecution took a nationalistic and political perspective, as the faithful Christians were deemed to have been influenced by the foreign influences, or even worse, by accusing them as traitors to the nation.

In what is similar to persecution of Christians in the earlier ages, even as the early Church was persecuted by the Roman Empire and by the Jewish authorities, many of the faithful suffered greatly for having kept their faith in God alive. Their properties and possessions were seized, their families and children were threatened, tortured or even brought to judgment and were killed unjustly.

Priests and bishops were sent to concentration and reeducation camp, where many suffered for many years. Some died in prison and for some the fact about their suffering was only known much later on. Such grievous things indeed which the faithful people of God in China had suffered for staying true to the Lord and for keeping the faith in their God alive.

The situation may seem to be much better these days as compared to how it was decades ago. And yet, we should not let ourselves be deceived. Persecution still continues upon the Church and upon our brethren the faithful ones in China. The Communists established the so-called ‘official church’ where all the faithful, the priests, the bishops and all must belong to, or else be persecuted.

But in reality, it is a means through which the people in power were trying to control the Church, and by requiring the faithful to obey the imposed rules and regulations, they were trying to sap the power of the Church and to prevent it from rising up against them. And if we have paid attention to the news, recently we have heard about the forced removal of crosses from many church buildings. It is a clear sign of the opposition which the government still accorded to the Christian faith.

And as we all reflect on these occasions today, let us all be mindful of the other persecutions and the sufferings that the faithful people of God are suffering even today in many parts of the world. Christians are persecuted in the Middle East where they even had to lose their lives just because they believe in the one and only true God. And in other places, the faithful are ridiculed because of their faith, and they are enduring ever greater difficulties in this world where God is gradually and increasingly becomes forgotten in the minds of men.

Therefore, let us all today devote our time to pray to God and ask for His help to be given to these brethren of ours, so that they may be given strength and courage to live their lives even under persecution and difficulty, that they will not give up or abandon their God for the sake of their own safety. May God help them and preserve them, particularly our brethren, the faithful people of God in China. May He bless them and keep them, and may He soon end the suffering that the Church in China faces today. God be with them all. Amen.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians and our Lady of Sheshen in China, World Day of Prayer for the Church in China (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Marian Feasts)

Mark 10 : 28-31

At that time, Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, “We have given up everything to follow You.” Jesus answered, “Truly, there is no one who has left house, or brothers or sisters, or father or mother, or children, or lands, for My sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive his reward.”

“I say to you : even in the midst of persecution, he will receive a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and lands in the present time, and in the world to come eternal life. Do pay attention : many who are now the first will be last, and the last, first.”