Sunday, 23 November 2014 : 34th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Memorial of Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr, and St. Columban, Abbot (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great feast day and solemnity of the Church, that is the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ the King, King of all creation and of all the universe. This celebration also marks the ending of our liturgical year, as next Sunday we will begin the season of Advent in preparation for Christmas, and this Sunday is the last great celebration of a liturgical year in the calendar of the Church celebrations.

And the theme of the Kingship of Christ ties closely to the future promised coming of our Lord Jesus into this world. The readings for this period, including the readings for today’s solemn occasion therefore is a reflection of this truth and this fact, that God will come again at a time He has appointed, and He will come again to judge all the living and the dead, as we believe in our Faith. In this we hope, as He will come again to gather us from the nations and bring us to His eternal love and glory.

As the Lord mentioned in the first reading, taken from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, even though mankind and the people of God had sinned and therefore suffered its consequences, being torn apart as a people and scattered through the nations, He did not abandon them, but still loved them all the same. At the time of the prophet Ezekiel, the northern kingdom of Israel had been destroyed by the Assyrians and its people brought into slavery and exile. The same had also happened to the southern kingdom of Judah, which population was brought to Babylon in a period known as the Babylonian captivity.

While those things had happened because of the sins of the people, who were not faithful to the covenant of the Lord, but it does not mean that God did not give them a second chance. If only that they would repent and change their sinful and evil ways, and adopt the ways of the righteous, then the Lord who is their Lord and Shepherd will gladly welcome them back into His embrace.

The psalm today is the renowned Psalm on ‘the Lord is my Shepherd’, which shows the nature of God as our loving Shepherd, as our Guide and as the provider of everything that we will ever need. And while we follow our Shepherd, who is the Lord, we will have no need to fear anything, as neither the power of the evil one nor the powers of this world and the evils in it have any power over us if we are ever faithful and solidly attach ourselves to our Lord and our Shepherd.

This is the nature of our Lord and Master’s Kingship, that is a Shepherd Kingship, not one where the king enslaves everyone to do his bidding and will, but instead a servant leadership. Remember what Lord Jesus did on the day of the Last Supper, when He acted as a servant, washing the feet of all His disciples. He taught the Apostles that a leader should lead by giving examples and serving others entrusted under his care, and not to lord over the other or even to oppress them.

And like a shepherd, who cares gently and tenderly for his sheep, our Lord’s kingship is one of service and love. He guides His sheep, that is all of us into the right paths and provide us all that we need. We need not fear the powers of evil and death if we stick closely to our Lord, as He is the only One who can bring harm to our soul. Though the powers of this world may be able to harm our body, they cannot do anything to harm our soul.

That is because, the faithful, though persecuted and oppressed by the world, they will be greatly rewarded at the Last Judgment, and their souls will be saved. We have no need to fear, brothers and sisters, if we follow the Lord. Persevere and remain faithful. Remember that in another part of the Gospel, Jesus said that those who seek to preserve themselves in this world will lose it, but those who do not mind to lose themselves will gain eternal life?

Through Christ, we have been made justified and righteous, as He is the new Adam by virtue of His incarnation as Man, as the prime example of the faithful and the just. The first Adam, our ancestor, had been unfaithful, and he followed his own personal greed and desire, and being thus taken in by Satan’s lies, and disobeying God, he had sinned, and sin entered into the hearts of men.

Jesus therefore is the role model for all of us, as the new Adam, who led a life opposite of the first Adam. While the first Adam was unfaithful and sinful, Christ the new Adam was completely faithful and devoted to God, free of any taints of sin in life. And meanwhile the first Adam thought first about himself and succumbed to his desires, Christ the new Adam thought first not of Himself, but of the One who had sent Him into the world, and obeyed the will of His Father perfectly and fully, that He brought about our salvation from sin and death.

And thus, in the second reading today, taken from letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, it was mentioned that for the obedience and the actions Christ had taken, as our King, and yet as a humble and servant King, God was pleased to subjugate all things and all peoples under His authority, that is precisely what He will do in the end of time, the Last Judgment, as the Judge to judge all the living and the dead.

At the end of time, our Lord Jesus will come to judge us all, and nothing that we have done or we have not done will not be uncovered. He knows everything about us, and there is nothing that we can hide from Him. Not even the deepest of our hearts’ secrets will remain hidden before God. The Book of Life and the other books mentioned in the Book of revelation and the Gospels contain all of our actions, our deeds and our words, every single things that we have committed.

Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that our Lord as our King, has two aspects, just as all the other kings also have. First, our King shows us mercy and love, His desire for all of us to be reunited with Him. However, as King, He also has to mete out justice and judgment, which must be impartial. Thus, while He is merciful and loving towards us, but He hates our sins, the taints and blemishes which separate us from the perfection of His love.

In the Gospel we heard how Jesus detailed on what will happen at the Last Judgment. All will come before the Lord their King, and He will judge them equally based on their actions. There were two groups of people at that judgment, and the judgment results are clear cut. It is either that they have done what is right in the eyes of God, or if they have done what is wicked, or failed to do what is right in the sight of God.

This should then bring our attention to the nature of sin. The most common sin known to us, is the sin of action, that is sins committed by doing things abhorrent and wicked before God and men, such as stealing, murder, jealousy, coveting others’ belongings, disobedience against God, fornication of the flesh and many others. However, many of us often do not realise or forget that there is another type of sin that is equally bad, and this is the sin of omission.

What is the sin of omission? As the name said, it is sin committed when we are perfectly in place and capable of doing something good, and yet we consciously choose not to do so, and instead, we often care for ourselves first, succumbing to our ego, pride and greed. Just as the first Adam, we have the tendency to be selfish, to think of ourselves first, and to satisfy our own needs first. And while he got the knowledge he wanted, he sinned.

What did Jesus say to those whom He judged to be on His left? He cursed them and condemned them because they have had many opportunities to do good things and to help the many people around them who are in need, and yet they ignored them and went on doing their own businesses, caring only about themselves. Their ignorance and refusal to lift up and raise their hands to help, had been accounted for, and these weighed in against them at the final judgment.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, on this celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King, what we can we do to improve ourselves and to ensure our salvation? It is by following the example of our Lord Himself, who is King, Lord and Master of all the Universe, and yet, He was humble, obedient and loving in all of His actions. He served those entrusted to Him, and also loved the poor, the meek and lowly, the ostracised and the castaways of the society. He showed His mercy and love to sinners, the prostitutes and tax collectors.

In following the actions and ways of Jesus our Lord and King, we will be able to do what is right, and give to our brethren in need, the love and support which we should give to them, especially whenever we are in position to give our help and our love. Do not forget also, that we must therefore avoid the sin of omission, which means that we should not be complacent or lazy whenever we are able to commit good deeds for the sake of our brethren.

Today, we also celebrate the feast day of both Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr, and also St. Columban, an abbot. The actions of these saints were in accordance to the actions of Christ, and they showed care and love for their friends and neighbours around them. Pope St. Clement I was the Pope in the early Church, one of the first direct successors of St. Peter the Apostle as the Bishop of Rome. Meanwhile, St. Columban was an abbot who lived during the early Dark Ages.

Pope St. Clement I was one of the earliest Popes, and records suggested that he was directly chosen by St. Peter to be one of his successors together with Pope St. Clement’s immediate predecessors. He was pious and devoted to God, and he tirelessly worked for the sake of the faithful. He was a man of prayer and love, often caring for those less fortunate under his care. He provided for them spiritually as well as in material, as far as he could.

It was told that he was exiled under the orders of the Roman Emperor Trajan, who sent him to the far corners of the Empire at Chersonessos, to work in a mine there. He carried out his work dutifully without fear, and when there was a draught in the mine, he prayed to God, and immediately a clear spring appeared, to the delight of his fellow exiles and workers.

It was clear from these examples, that Pope St. Clement I is another role model we can follow, as he truly practiced his faith, and when he was able to, he helped those around him by using the grace God given him, the grace of prayer and faith, which he used to bring goodness to the others poor, oppressed and exiled from their houses.

Meanwhile, St. Columban was an Irish missionary, who travel widely across Europe and Christendom at the time, spreading the faith in various locations, serving and helping others around the places during his journeys. St. Columban established many monasteries around Europe and Christendom, becoming eventually an abbot himself.

The works and dedications of St. Columban might have been different from that of Pope St. Clement I, but nevertheless, what he had done, was also done to help the least of the society, those who have been lost to the darkness, and by giving places to the faithful who sought to devote themselves more to God in prayer, he had done much great goodness for the Lord and His people.

Hence, as we end our liturgical year with this celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King, and with the understanding that upon baptism, we too have shared in the Kingship of Christ, let us all be ever more resolute in truly living our faith, so that in all that we do, and in all that we say and in our actions, we may be loving towards our brethren, especially those who are in need of our help.

Let us be like our Lord and King, who did not boast and be proud of His authority and kingship, but rather remain humble and serve those who had been entrusted to Him. Through our baptism, we share in the kingship of Christ, and we have to realise that all of us have the responsibility to take care of one another, to keep each other in the path of the Lord. May our Lord and King watch over us always, and help us, so that we may remain ever faithful, and in the end, when He comes again, He may find us righteous and just, and thus are worthy of His eternal kingdom. God be with us all. Amen.


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Second Reading :


Gospel Reading :

Monday, 20 January 2014 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Memorial of Pope St. Fabian, Pope and Martyr, and St. Sebastian, Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green and Red (Martyrs)

1 Samuel 15 : 16-23

Samuel then told Saul, “Enough! Let me tell you what YHVH said to me last night.” Saul replied, “Please tell me.” So Samuel went on and said, “Though you had no confidence in yourself, you became chief of the tribes of Israel, for YHVH wanted to anoint you king over Israel.”

“Then He sent you with this command, ‘Go. Completely crush the Amalekite offenders, engaging them in battle until they are destroyed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of YHVH but instead swooped down on the spoil, doing what was evil in His sight?”

To this, Saul replied, “I have obeyed the voice of YHVH and have carried out the mission for which He sent me. I have captured Agag, king of Amalek and completely destroyed the Amalekites. If my men spared the best sheep and oxen from among those to be destroyed, it was in order to sacrifice them to YHVH, your God, in Gilgal.”

Samuel then said, “Does YHVH take as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to His command? Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission better than the fat of rams. Rebellion is like the sin of divination, and stubbornness like holding onto idols. Since you have rejected the word of YHVH, He too has rejected you as king.”

Wednesday, 20 November 2013 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 19 : 11-28

Jesus was now near Jerusalem, and the people with Him thought that God’s reign was about to appear. So as they were listening to Him, Jesus went on to tell them a parable. He said, “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to assume regal authority, after which he planned to return home. Before he left, he summoned ten of his servants and gave them ten pounds of silver.”

“He said, ‘Put this money to work until I get back.’ But his compatriots, who disliked him, sent a delegation after him with this message, ‘We do not want this man to be our king.’ He returned, however, appointed as king. At once he sent for the servants, to whom he had given the money, to find out what profit each had made.”

“The first came in, and reported, ‘Sir, your pound of silver has earned ten more pounds of silver.'”

“The master replied, ‘Well done, my good servant! Since you have proven yourself faithful in a small matter, I can trust you to take charge of ten cities.'”

“The second reported, ‘Sir, your pound of silver earned five more pounds of silver.’ The master replied, ‘And you, take charge of five cities!'”

“The third came in, and said, ‘Sir, here is your money, which I hid for safekeeping. I was afraid of you, for you are an exacting person : you take up what you did not lay down, and you reap what you did not sow,'”

“The master replied, ‘You worthless servant, I will judge you by your own words! So you knew I was an exacting person, taking up what I did not lay down, and reaping what I did not sow? Why, then, did you not put my money on loan, so that, when I got back, I could have collected it with interest?'”

“Then the master said to those standing by, ‘Take from him that pound, and give it to the one with ten pounds.’ But they objected, ‘Sir, he already has ten pounds!'”

“The master replied, ‘I tell you, everyone who has will be given more; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for my enemies who did not want me to be their king, bring them in, and execute them right here in front me!'”

So Jesus spoke, and then He passed on ahead of them, on His way to Jerusalem.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius X, Pope (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today, we listen to the fairness of our God, the upright nature of His words, and the love He showed upon all of us through His constant help throughout time. He showed His love and mercy upon us, and He is just to all of His children. We who have been marred by sin and evil, and the ones who should have been cast with the devil into the eternal fire of hell, had been brought from the domain of death, back into the land of the living, just as the owner of the vineyard had brought those who are unemployed on the streets to work on his field.

Indeed, He has brought us from our oppressors, that is the devil and his angels, at a great price, a price that He paid with nothing other than His own Most Precious Blood, that redeemed all of us, from the price of sin that had been placed on us ever since we first sinned against God and disobeyed against His will and His commandments. He paid for all of us with that Most Precious Body and Blood of His, that we will not die, but live eternal with Him, He who loves us and He who wants to forgive us from our sins and impurities.

He had called us all from the darkness to come into the light, to come for the salvation that He had prepared for us. He made a promise, a covenant with all of us, that we will be rewarded with life eternal in Him, as we enter into our new life in Him, just as the labourers were taken out of their joblessness and life in the streets, into the new life in the service of the Lord in His field, His vineyard. Each of us, brothers and sisters, given a new chance of life, that we may truly receive a reward of eternity at the end of our labours and journey in this world.

Yes, and just like what we heard in the First Reading today, we are like the trees that goes around seeking a tree to be king over all of us, to be that source of leadership and guidance in our respective lives, to be the light guiding us through the darkness of this world. And indeed, while all the regal and great trees, well beloved and renowned, like the fig tree and the vine, did not want to abandon all that they have for the trees’ sake, Jesus is indeed like the bramble vine, who would want to lower Himself to be our king.

Why so? It is because becoming our king is not an easy thing for Jesus, as His ministry in this world would have shown. Many people opposed Him, and many paid a deaf ear to His messages and His teachings, and many openly defied Him and questioned Him, not least of all the leaders of the people, the chief priests and the Pharisees. He stripped everything off Himself to be our King, the king of slaves and the king of the oppressed and the abandoned ones.

That such that even He went through so much, as our leader and our King, and our Master, being crowned with the painful crown of thorns, to indeed signify that He is our king, and not just like any earthly kings, but a true king, one with His people always forefront in His heart and in all His concerns. He loves us, brothers and sisters, and His love for all of us, without exception, is so much that He was willing to endure all our sufferings and supposed punishments, and drink the cup of suffering that had been prepared for Him.

He did not shirk from the huge and burdensome task that awaited Him, and instead He went on, being led like a lamb brought to its slaughterhouse, and although He is innocent, He wanted to endure all those that were intended for all of us. For what, brothers and sisters in Christ? None other than the salvation and the rescue of our souls from the eternal damnation in hell! None other than the eternal separation that we would have to endure for all times, for all eternity, away from our Lord and God who loves us so much.

Yes, Jesus our Lord and God wants us to be with Him, instead of being in the fires and suffering of hell. He cares for us, He showered us with His love and mercy, especially through no other act greater than the surrendering of His own life, as the perfect and unblemished sacrifice for our sins, in His death on the cross. That was why He gave us the one and only means to salvation, that is none other than His own flesh and blood, which He gave to all of us and offered to all of us, at the Last Supper He had with His disciples.

That was exactly what Pope St. Pius X, the great early twentieth century Pope whose feast we are celebrating today, championed, on the emphasis on the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, the Most Holy Eucharist through which He had given us the means to salvation. Pope St. Pius X was born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, and he became a priest in his home diocese of mantua, eventually rising up the ranks to be bishop, and then the Cardinal Patriarch of Venice. He was elected as Pope Pius X, the 257th Pope and the 256th successor of St. Peter in 1903.

Pope St. Pius X was truly a great and holy Pope determined to reform the Holy Church and all its practices to better reflect its task as the bearer and medium of God’s salvation to all of us, the member of that One Body of Christ in the Church. Most important of all, He reformed the rules of the Holy Communion, such that then even small children would be able to receive the Most Precious Body and Blood of Christ our Lord. Previously, only full fledged adults were able to receive Holy Communion, but with the reform spearheaded by Pope St. Pius X, those children were opened the way of salvation through the receiving of the Holy Eucharist.

To Pope St. Pius X, there is no better path and way to salvation, and there is no better gate to salvation than that of the Most Precious Body and Blood offered to us, from the Last Supper, down to us through the Holy Mass that we celebrate regularly. In them, we find the fullness and completeness of the Lord’s promise and dedication to us, in suffering the blows meant for us, that we will not die but live a life eternal in the bliss of heaven. For his hard work for the sake of the Lord, through the promotion of the early reception of the Eucharist, and also the regular reception of the Holy Eucharist, he was known as the Pope of the Eucharist.

Pope St. Pius X also reformed much aspect of the Church, ensuring that the Church can reflect better the ways through which it can persevere in the ever-changing and increasingly hostile world, to spread the words of the Lord’s Gospel to all mankind. He reformed the Church music by greatly promoting and reviving the usage of the Gregorian Chant, which beauty for the worship of the Lord, we can still enjoy today. He truly had dedicated his life and work for the sake of God, His Church, and His people, and he is indeed an example that all of us should try to emulate in our own lives.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, reminding ourselves most importantly of the love and attention God had for us, and the blessings He had given us, through His Son, Jesus, who had shed His own flesh and blood, and His life for us, let us resolve to love Him more and more, let us revere Him in the Most Holy Eucharist by attending the Mass regularly and reverently, and accepting Him into ourselves as we eat His Body and His Blood in the Holy Communion. Pray for us, Pope St. Pius X, that we will grow to love the Lord ever more in the Most Holy Eucharist. May the Lord in the Eucharist remain with us and bless us always. Amen.