Sunday, 7 June 2015 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate a very great solemnity, that is the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, or the Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. If last week we commemorate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, celebrating the Triune nature of our God, He who is One but exists in Three distinct Divine Persons : Father, Son and Holy Spirit, then on this day, we commemorate how that same Lord our God had come down upon us and dwells with us even now.

It is also a core and central tenet of our Faith to believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist. What is the Eucharist? It is not just mere bread and wine that we have offered to the Lord during the Mass. Indeed, the Mass itself is a holy sacrifice, which is truly the same Sacrifice which our Lord Jesus Christ had gone through for our sake as He hung from the cross that day on Calvary. It is the exact same sacrifice intended by God to seal His new and eternal Covenant with us mankind, sealed not by any mortal blood, but by the very Blood of the Lord Himself.

As in the first reading we heard how Moses gathered the people of Israel and sanctified them, and offering sacrifices of bulls and goats to the Lord through the priests chosen by the Lord, the blood of the animal sacrifices were collected and then sprinkled on the people, and the blood as the sign of the covenant which God had made with them. The blood is the pact and the seal that validated the whole covenant that God established with Israel.

By the blood of the lambs also God had rescued the people of Israel from their suffering and slavery by the Egyptians. God instructed them through Moses to take the blood of the Passover lambs and mark their houses on the doorposts and lintels with it. The houses marked with the blood of the lambs was then spared by the Lord and His angels of death passing through Egypt that night.

But the blood of mortal animals, lambs, bulls and goats do not last and neither did they constitute a lasting mark and seal on the covenant which God has made. Indeed, the priests chosen by God would have to renew the covenant again and again by constantly offering sacrifices to God. And in time, this became a problem when the people became engrossed with how the sacrifices were done instead of understanding the reasons behind such actions.

Instead of empty meaning of sacrifices done without proper understanding, what God intended was for us all to know that He is Love, and it is truly about His Love that we rejoice. The love of God therefore has been shown clearly in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God Himself who had allowed Himself to take up the humble form of Man, so that He may walk among us and dwell with us, as the ultimate symbol of God’s everlasting love and faithfulness.

For we mankind since the beginning of time had been intended for good things and for greatness. But we have not done our part of the covenant and the promise, and we broke the trust of the Lord by preferring to listen and obey the devil instead of obeying the Lord and His commandments. And even later on, the people of Israel continued to sin and worshipped even the pagan gods and following the pagan customs of their neighbour, in a blatant disregard of the covenant which God had established with them.

God is however ever faithful and He never went back on His words, or on any of His promises. It was always us mankind who betrayed the Lord and followed our own path, often leading up to damnation and distraction. And from time to time again, God forgave us and gave us a new chance, but there were not many who took up this generous offer of mercy. And so many of our kind fell into damnation.

Yet, for all of our disobedience, God wants us all His beloved to be sanctified and consecrated to Him, that we may be marked as His own, just as Israel in our first reading today were consecrated by the blood of the animal sacrifices before the Lord. However, this time round, it is no longer just the people of Israel and the descendants of Jacob only, but the new Covenant that God has established through His Son Jesus Christ encompasses all mankind.

And this new Covenant is perfect, far more perfect than the previous covenants, for God sealed it Himself with His Blood, the Blood of the Paschal Lamb, our Lord Jesus Himself, even as He hung on the cross. It was by His ultimate sacrifice on the cross that on the Altar of Calvary, on the Altar of the earth, He was hung between the heavens and the earth, as the perfect sacrifice and oblation for our sake. And while the blood of lambs, goats and bulls did not offer lasting purification for our sins, but the Blood of Christ our Lord offers eternal liberation from sin for all those who are true to His Covenant.

What is this Covenant? It is a Covenant of Love between God and us mankind, that is we ought to first love the Lord our God, with all of our heart, our mind, our strength and with all the capacity of our beings. And then secondly, we ought to love one another just in the same manner, as we have loved our Lord and just as we have loved and cared for ourselves. It is the Ten Commandments of God, revealed in the entirety of truth by Jesus Himself, that God is love, and His commandments is love too.

And He Himself gave the perfect example, by giving the perfect and most selfless love, by dying on the cross for us. Remember that Jesus said that the greatest love is for someone to die and lay down his life for his friends? It is therefore at that moment of the crucifixion, that Jesus laid down His life for us His beloved ones. And how is this relevant to us all, brethren? That is because it is the same sacrifice that we celebrate again and again every time we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

At the Last Supper, on the day before He died, Jesus had instituted the Eucharist itself by showing His disciples what they ought to do from then on, in the memory of Him, and not just memory indeed, for what the disciples would do from then on, and from them to our bishops and priests today, in an unbroken chain of peoples consecrated to God, they would become the Alter Christus, or the Christ personified in the person of the priests.

It is because they have been given the authority by the Lord Himself, to change the very substance and matter of the bread and wine which we offer, just as on the Last Supper when the Lord Jesus transformed the bread and wine into His own Body and His own Blood, to be given to us all, so that all of who share in them, may receive the eternal life promised to us.

And that Body is real Body, and real food. The Blood is real Blood, and real drink. Did Jesus not say that to the people of Israel, when He said that His Body and Blood are real food and drink? And how those who did not share in them do not have eternal life in them? And many of His disciples left Him after that, simply because they could not take the fact, and because they failed to understand the truth.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, do not be afraid if others mock us for believing in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, for people have rejected Jesus Himself in the past for stating the same truth. We believe that the bread and wine we see in the Holy Mass are transformed in matter and substance completely to the substance of our Lord Jesus Christ, His Body and Blood, and what we receive at the Holy Communion is not just a memory or a symbol, but the very Real and True Presence of our Lord Himself.

That is why we ought to adore the Most Holy Eucharist and know that it is the Lord Himself who had given Himself to us, so that by receiving Him into us, we may share in His death and resurrection, and receive the keys to the eternal life and happiness that He had prepared for us. That is why also, any profanation or improper treatment of the Real Presence of God is absolutely unacceptable.

And at the same time, let us take note that because the Lord Himself now dwells in us, we have become the Temple of His Presence, and the Tabernacle of His dwelling, just as we reserve the Eucharist in the Tabernacle at the heart and the centre of the Church. Therefore, we must make sure that we keep ourselves worthy and holy, so that we are truly worthy to have the Lord, the Giver of all Life and the Source of all that is good, dwell within us.

If we have sinned, in a small or big way, let us all endeavour to seek to be forgiven first, by doing penance and seeking God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance, looking for a priest to confess our sins. Let us not be afraid to ask for forgiveness and to go to confession. It is better that in our humility we are forgiven and brought to perfect reconciliation and be found worthy once again, rather than for us to receive Him in an unworthy state and then be condemned for defiling the Holy Temple of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all seek to be more committed to our faith in the Lord, and let us all seek to be closer to the Lord our God, who is really and truly present in the bread and wine transformed by the priests, the Alter Christus, into the very Body and Blood of our Lord Himself. Let us all who receive Him worthily gain the blessings and graces He had promised all of us who believe. God be with us all, the Temples of His holy Presence. Amen.

Sunday, 7 June 2015 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 14 : 12-16, 22-26

At that time, on the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the day when the Passover Lamb was killed, the disciples asked Him, “Where would You have us go to prepare the Passover meal for You?”

So Jesus sent two of His disciples with these instructions, “Go into the city, and there a man will come to you carrying a jar of water. Follow him to the house he enters and say to the owner, ‘The Master says, Where is the room where I may eat the Passover meal with My disciples?’ Then he will show you a large room upstairs, already arranged and furnished. There you will prepare for us.”

The disciples went off. When they reached the city, they found everything just as Jesus had told them, and they prepared the Passover meal. While they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to them. And He said, “Take This, It is My Body.”

Then He took a cup, and after He had given thanks, He passed it to them and they all drank from it. And He said, “This is My Blood, the Blood of the Covenant, poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not taste the fruit of the vine again, until that day when I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.”

After singing psalms of praise, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Sunday, 7 June 2015 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 9 : 11-15

But now Christ has appeared as the High Priest with regard to the good things of these new times. He passed through a sanctuary more noble and perfect, not made by hands, that is, not created. He did not take with Himself the blood of goats and bulls but His own Blood, when He entered once and for all into this sanctuary after obtaining definitive redemption.

If the sprinkling of people defiled by sin with the blood of goats and bulls or with the ashes of a heifer provides them with exterior cleanness and holiness, how much more will it be with the Blood of Christ? He, moved by the eternal Spirit, offered Himself as an unblemished victim to God and His Blood cleanses us from the dead works, so that we may serve the Living God.

So Christ is the Mediator of a new Covenant or Testament. His death made atonement for the sins committed under the old testament, and the promise is handed over to all who are called to the everlasting inheritance.

Sunday, 7 June 2015 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 115 : 12-13, 15 and 16bc, 17-18

How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the Name of the Lord.

It is painful to the Lord to see the death of His faithful. Truly I am Your servant, Your handmaid’s son. You have freed me from my bonds.

I will offer You a thanksgiving sacrifice. I will call on the Name of the Lord. I will carry out my vows to the Lord in the presence of His people.

Sunday, 7 June 2015 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Exodus 24 : 3-8

Moses came and told the people all the words of YHVH and all His laws. The people replied with one voice : “Everything that YHVH has said, we shall do.”

Moses wrote down all the words of YHVH, then rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve raised stones for the twelve tribes of Israel. He then sent young men from among the sons of Israel to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice bullocks as peace offerings to YHVH.

And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins; and with the other half of the blood he sprinkled the altar. He then took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. They said, “All that YHVH said we shall do and obey.”

Moses then took the blood and sprinkled it on the people saying, “Here is the blood of the Covenant that YHVH has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Saturday, 6 June 2015 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Saturday Mass of our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, what the Church wants us to remember and keep in our minds is very clear. The theme of the Scripture readings which we heard is on humility and on generosity of almsgiving, that when we give others we must be generous, and we must always think of others first before we think about ourselves.

Unfortunately, it is in our own human nature to resist this, and to do things in opposition to this. We are by nature selfish, and we always think of ourselves first. It is easy for us to fall into the temptation of money, possessions and other forms of worldliness. And indeed, most of mankind from time to time and from ages to ages had been seeking their own personal aggrandisement, and for the enlargement of their own ego, their own power and their own domain.

Wars and violence had been fought over the inability of men to let go of their ego and desires. As a result, many had died and suffered because of this inherent fault in men’s hearts and minds, the results of mankind’s greed and ego. In the first reading today, we heard how the Archangel Raphael who was sent by God to heal both Tobit and Sara revealed himself in full before all of them, to show the fullness of the work of God accomplished in them.

God wanted to show them all that He sees all and He knows all that they do, and therefore all that we do as well. He rewards those who are faithful to Him and keeps their faith in Him, those who have done what is good to one another. Those who shows love and compassion on all their brethren in need. God saw all that Tobit had done, his charity and love for his desolate and abandoned brethren, those who died and was murdered without anyone left to care for them.

Remember what Jesus Himself had said? In one of the Gospel passages, Jesus mentioned about how the righteous will be separated and put aside from the wicked at the Last Judgment on the last day, and God Himself will judge all of them. The righteous He will praise and bless, for they have done what is good to the least of their brethren. They did not turn a deaf ear to those who called for help and their eyes saw the plight of the suffering and their hands and legs were moved by it.

The wicked on the other hand did not do all these, and their eyes, their ears and senses were closed against the pleas of the weak, the innocent and the oppressed. They were unable to comprehend that true greatness lies in the service to others and helping one another, and not by advancing one’s own greatness and glory. Unfortunately, wealth and possessions have the tendency of corrupting ourselves and our priorities in life.

The wealthy have the tendency of wanting to preserve more and more of what they have already had, and also to add up to what they had and made their possessions even more. It does not mean however, that wealth, money, riches and possessions are inherently evil by itself, as in fact they were all neutral, but in how men had used them, more often than not, they used them for selfish purposes instead and for evil.

The lesson which all of us ought to take out from this is that we have to firstly care for one another with loving and tender care. And then, when we give to others, we must be truly sincere and generous. We should not even be expecting for any returns or rewards for having done so. If we expect rewards, then it is already selfish for us to do so.

The Archangel Raphael told Tobit and his family that those who were humble are blessed and praised by God. He revealed that God truly cares for those who are faithful to Him. He will never leave them behind. The same therefore, had happened in the Gospel today with the woman who had donated all of her belongings and possessions to the Temple. That is because in her heart, she had devoted it all to God, while the rich men did not have their hearts fully concentrated at the Lord.

Therefore, as we today also celebrate the memory of St. Norbert, also known as St. Norbert of Xanten, who was renowned for his devotion to the Lord and his devotion to renew the faith and purify it from all the corruptions and evils that had crept up into the Church and its faithful the years, and despite oppositions and even assassination attempts, he remained faithful and dedicated to his cause. Hence, all of us should also be inspired to follow in His footsteps.

Brothers and sisters, let us all pray to the Almighty God, that He may keep us strong and faithful to our calling, and let us all be closer ever to the throne of His love. Let us all devote ourselves ever more strongly to our God. May God be with us all. Amen.

Saturday, 6 June 2015 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Saturday Mass of our Lady)

Mark 12 : 38-44

At that time, as Jesus was teaching, He also said to the people, “Beware of those teachers of the Law, who enjoy walking around in long robes and being greeted in the marketplace, and who like to occupy reserved seats in the synagogues, and the first places at feasts. They even devour the widow’s and the orphan’s goods while making a show of long prayers. How severe a sentence they will receive!”

Jesus sat down opposite the Temple treasury, and watched the people dropping money into the treasury box; and many rich people put in large offerings, but a poor widow also came and dropped in two small coins. Then Jesus called His disciples and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all those who gave offerings. For all of them gave from their plenty, but she gave from her poverty, and put in everything she had, her very living.”