Tuesday, 7 March 2017 : 1st Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Matthew 6 : 7-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “When you pray, do not use a lot of words, as the pagans do, for they believe that the more they say, the more chance they have of being heard. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need, even before you ask Him.”

“This, then, is how you should pray : Our Father in heaven, holy be Your Name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, just as we have forgiven those who are in debt to us. Do not bring us to the test, but deliver us from the evil one.”

“If you forgive others their wrongdoings, your Father in heaven will also forgive yours. If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive you either.”

Wednesday, 8 October 2014 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 11 : 1-4

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”

And Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say this : Father, may Your Name be held holy, may Your kingdom come; give us each day the kind of bread we need, and forgive us our sins, for we also forgive all who do us wrong, and do not bring us to the test.”

Saturday, 1 March 2014 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 140 : 1-2, 3 and 8

Lord, I call on You, hasten to help me! Listen to my plea when I call to you. Let my prayer rise to You like incense, as I lift up my hands as in an evening sacrifice.

O Lord, set a guard at my mouth, keep watch at the gate of my lips. But my eyes are turned to You, o God, my Lord; strip me not of life, for You are my refuge.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Today we heard of the famous call which God made to the prophet Samuel, when he was still a child. Samuel, who was still an innocent child and not knowing the purpose which God has given to him, was called and Samuel responded. Samuel was called to be the one to deliver God’s message to His people and to let them know His will.

The people had steered away from the path of the Lord and engaged in activities wicked in the eyes of God, following what their neighbours were doing, and worshipping pagan gods and idols instead of their Lord and God. The priest and judge appointed over the Lord’s people at the time, Eli, was already very old and his sons did wicked things before God even though they were priests and leaders of the people.

Hence Samuel was called to be the servant of God, to bend once again God’s people to His will and to make them a righteous people once again. Even before his birth, he had been pledged by his mother Hannah, to the service of the Lord, in thanksgiving for hearing her prayer for children. Samuel, entrusted to the Lord and through Eli’s care, grew great and wise, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.

In the calling of Samuel in today’s first reading, we did not hear the content of the message which God told to Samuel. Nevertheless, the key message from what God had told Samuel was that He was angry with the wickedness of the people of God, especially with those of the two sons of Eli, whose wicked deeds were loathsome to God, and that He would make Samuel to be a great prophet and leader of His people.

God loves us and He cares for all of us like a father loves his children and his family. After all, He created us as the last and the greatest of all His creations, destined for great things and eternal happiness, to fill the earth with all of us and rule the world as the stewards of God’s beautiful creations. This beautiful order of nature and our inheritance was disturbed when the evil one brought sin onto our ancestors, by tempting them to rebel against God’s commandments, disguised as sweet words of lie.

That was why God who loved us beyond anything else in creation, for we have been created in His very own image, wants us to be made worthy again and purified from the taints that evil had brought upon us. God sent His messengers and heralds to help bring us back into line, prodding us along the way to change our ways and return to the loving embrace of our God.

All of these essentially have the same message for all of us, including what Jesus had done in His ministry when He was still in this world. This message is that God calls us to be once again His complete and unblemished possessions, that we will once again walk in His ways and not follow the ways of the devil. He sent His own Son into this world precisely in order to do that. He gave us hope in Jesus, through His life, death, and finally resurrection, as the beacon of light and triumph leading us out of the darkness and back into the light.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as Samuel was called by God in his sleep, let us also reflect on what had happened, and how Samuel was taught to respond to the Lord’s call by Eli. When the Lord calls, we should answer, I am here Lord, Your servant is listening, much in the same way as Samuel had done. And we have the advantage over Samuel in fact, because much had been revealed to us by none other than our Lord Jesus, who revealed to us the truth about Himself and the hope He brought to us.

In our world today and in our lives, many of us have often forgotten about the Lord, and His call had not been heard by us, in the great noise of our hectic lifestyle, and the things of the world that surround us. The voice of the Lord speaking in our hearts is often drowned out by the world and its noise, which apparently offered us options and alternatives more delectable to us as compared to what the Lord offers us.

Let us break free from the bonds of evil and be liberated from the falsehood that had been planted by the devil within us. Do not be afraid to answer when the Lord calls upon us. Answer Him with courage and confidence and put our listening ear closely upon His words. It is often important for us to take off some time from our busy life and spend time regularly with our Lord and God.

That is why, it is important for us to pray. Prayer is not just a long litany of self-praise or requests to be made to the Lord, hoping or even demanding that God will fulfill what we want. This is not prayer, but empty words. We have to pray often, and in praying means, to let God speak to us just as we talk to Him quietly within our hearts. We have to seek to know Him just as He knows about everything that we are.

Pray, and pray often and pray right, brethren! Open our hearts to the Lord and listen to Him speaking and calling upon us! Let Him come and transform us, that all of us will become truly worthy, and truly glorified in Christ, and when He comes again in His glory, may we all be ready to answer Him when He calls on us, with a firm and solid, “Here I am Lord! Your servant is listening!” God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 27 October 2013 : 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brethren, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ. What right do we have to be proud and judgmental before God and before others? What right do we have to condemn others because we think that we are better than them? And what right do we have to boast of ourselves and the good things that we do, before the Lord our God? None, we have none of these rights, because we truly are all sinners without exception, all equal before the Lord.

The Lord loves all those who are humble, and those who are in deep realisation of their own sins. They are truly beloved by God, because they are those who are more likely to have God in their hearts, and also those who are more likely to put the Lord at the centre of their hearts and at the centre of their very being. It does not mean that the proud and the mighty do not have the Lord in their hearts, but they are predisposed to put less importance to the Lord compared to those who are meek and humble.

This is because, due to our nature, our pride very often stands in the way of salvation in God, as well as blocking the love of God from reaching us. When pride masters our hearts, it grows to arrogance, and a feeling of superiority that tends to shut out anything that points out our inadequacies and mistakes, because we tend to put ever more and more trust in our own strengths and abilities.

We must not therefore, be like the Pharisee, who basked in his own glory, and praising his own goodness. He even went on to look down upon those whom he considered to be not as good as him, particularly the tax collector. He thought of himself as being pious and saved, but in fact he is truly empty within him, and without God as the centre of his life.

In doing what he had done, the Pharisee had highlighted the pride he has in him, and how he gave in to that pride, and finally, in his prayers, he gave glory to himself and did not give glory to God. The Lord who sees all and knows all will give what the Pharisee and other people like him, what they deserved. They deserved neither praise nor honour, because in their pride, they gave no glory to God, and in a prayer full of hubris, they revealed the darkness of their souls.

Brethren, although Jesus used the example of the Pharisees to depict the bad seed in the society, in many different occasions and conditions, that is mainly because at that time, the Pharisees were well known for their very strict adherence to the laws of Moses, as well as the other, numerous Jewish laws and customs.

This is in fact good, as indeed, we all need to obey and follow God’s rules and laws. However, in the way that this was done by the Pharisees, they had not done what the Lord truly wanted them to do, and in fact, the Pharisees obeyed mostly the laws of men, that is the numerous rules, regulations, and rituals created by the people over many generations.

They have lost the understanding of the true meaning of the law of God, as well as how it should be implemented. They had become obsessed at the observation of the laws derived from the true law, that they did those rules without true understanding of why they did so. Even worse, as the leaders of the people and role model of the people, they have misguided the people of God, and also exploited them, by imposing on them the crushing weight of such rules and regulations.

What the Lord truly wants from us, His children, is the love and dedication that we can give Him, genuinely and sincerely, from the depth of our hearts. This kind of love is not easy for us to achieve, as it means the total giving of ourselves, the opening of our hearts to the Lord and His love. In the same way, the Lord also wants us to love one another just as we have loved ourselves, and just as we have loved Him. These are the essence of the true desire of the Lord for us, through which He guided us via His laws and commandments.

This is why, the Lord loves the prayer of the tax collector mentioned in Jesus’ teaching, where He mentioned that the prayer of the tax collector was heard and he had his sins forgiven for him. The tax collector did not only distance himself from the Holy Presence of God, feeling so unworthy because he realised the depth of his faults and iniquities, but he even lowered himself humbly before God’s presence, kneeling in great shame before God.

And yet, it is this tax collector who are more capable of understanding his own sins, being in greater realisation of the faults he had committed. As I would like to highlight again what the late, saintly Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen had said, that the greater the sin one has, the closer is one to the throne of mercy. The darker one’s sins are, the more shame they should experience before the Lord their God.

Yet, the problem lies in that, many of us today are desensitised to sin. We are no longer feeling that shame whenever we commit sinful deeds. We instead even find sin to be good things and things that we enjoy. Hence we begin our path to downfall, by not realising the gravity of our sinfulness, and putting our pride ahead of us. In essence, we are becoming more and more like the Pharisee instead of the remorseful tax collector.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, lastly, the Lord also taught us the importance of prayer through the same parable, that we ought to pray, but not just any prayer. A prayer that is truly genuine and from the heart, made in complete submission to the will of God, and also complete willingness to listen to the word of God being spoken in our hearts.

Prayer is not just about us talking all the time, and neither it is a litany of demands and wishes for us to send to the Lord. Instead, a prayer is ought to be how it is intended, that is as a two-way communication channel between us and the Lord. That is what prayer truly is, brothers and sisters! Talk less and listen more! The Lord who knows all certainly knows what we truly need. It is often that what we desire is not what we need. In our greed it is likely for us to desire even things that we do not truly need.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, today all of us are called to a life of greater holiness, deeper spirituality, and greater commitment to the Lord. We need a deeper faith, a healthier prayer life, and ultimately, greater dedication and love for our fellow mankind, and especially, for the Lord Himself. May we grow ever stronger in our faith, our hope and love in God. God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priest)

Forgive and you shall be forgiven. Have mercy and mercy will be shown to you. Show love and love will be shown to you. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heed the readings today, this is the common theme that we all can and should certainly be able to pick up and identify, as a common virtue of our faith in Christ. Christ in today’s Gospel taught His disciples how to pray to God, and that prayer, as we are all familiar with, is the Lord’s Prayer, Pater Noster, or our Father.

That prayer is a simple and yet perfect prayer, and indeed how all prayers should be. Prayers is less about glorifying ourselves before God, and even less still a litany of wishes and desires that we often request or even demand from God. How many of us have been angry at God for not fulfilling our wishes, which we constantly include in our prayers?

Prayer is truly about opening oneself to God and to His eternal love, that is to let Him embrace us with the warmth of His love, that we are made perfect once again in love. That is the essence of prayer and the essence of our loving dedication to God who is our Father. Prayer is a line of communication between Him and us, as a medium through which we do not just speak, but also listen, to the words of the Lord being spoken within our hearts.

Too often the noise of this world prevents us from being able to listen to the word of God, and we become preoccupied in our own worldly dealings, in our own emotions and prejudices, in that we end up trusting our own judgments more than we trust or believe in the wise judgments of the Lord. That is also the essence of today’s readings, in that, we need to be able to overcome those personal prejudices and ill emotions within our hearts, that we will be able to make a reasonable judgment.

Indeed, remember that in fact we are not in a proper place to judge, not even ourselves, since as many sins as we can see in others around us, there are often in fact even more sins within us that we cannot see. To judge others for their sins and to condemn them for those sins is not right, for if we judge them for those, surely we will be judged too, for our own, equally if not more numerous sins.

That is why the Lord reminded Jonah of this fact, of the need for one to be merciful and forgiving, for the virtue of mercy and forgiveness is abundant, and out of them, love will be born. Love cannot exist if we do not first show mercy and forgiveness, especially to those who had wronged us, and to those who had caused us pain and suffering.

It is important that we as the followers and children of the Lord, to be chain-breakers. Why so? Which chains are we talking about? It is the chain that binds our heart and shut it tight, hardening it against the love of God and preventing us from sharing our love with our brethren around us. These chains are sin and worldly temptations that bind us to themselves and to hell, preventing us from being saved.

Indeed, we need to be loving and forgiving at the same time in our lives in this world, in our calling as the disciples of Christ, the One who is Love. We cannot remain bound to those chains we had talked about, and rather, we must break free, both from our own chains of sin, or break free the chains that bound others, that all of us will be loved by God for eternity.

Today we commemorate the feast of St. Denis, the bishop of Paris in the Roman province of Gaul, at where is now known as France. He was a zealous servant of God who lived upright and just life, during the time of great persecutions against the Church and the faithful. The Emperor Decius reigned at the time St. Denis was martyred for his faith. Decius was known to be strongly opposed to the Church and to the faith in God, and ordered one of the most vicious and brutal of all the persecutions of Christians by the state.

St. Denis and some people who were condemned to die with him were beheaded on a hill in what is today Paris, and yet, a miracle happened. It was told that St. Denis did not die even though his head had been cut off from his body. St. Denis picked up his head and walked for several miles, preaching and testifying the greatness of the Lord, made evident in the miraculous occasion of St. Denis himself. He only died when he reached a spot where he was then buried, and where now stands a basilica erected in the honour of his name, that is the Basilica Cathedral of St. Denis in Paris.

Today we also honour St. John Leonardi, an Italian priest living during a time of trouble for the Church and for Christendom, at a time when the Reformation rebels were spreading wildly their heresies and teachings across Europe and gained sizable following. St. John Leonardi was devoted to the people of God, especially the weak and the poor, and did many charitable acts to help and love them.

He also spread the devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and promoted the observation of the Liturgy of the Hours, a dedication of one’s prayer in daily basis, as well as the Adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist. Not limited to that, St. John Leonardi also established the religious order of the Clerks, who took part in and contributed to the effort in stemming the Protestant heresies.

Both these saints and their companions had been devoted to their cause, their calling, and committed themselves fully to both the Lord and His beloved people. Therefore, should we then not do the same? Our calling in life is to love, that is to love both the Lord and to love one another, that in love, we truly become worthy of being called the children of God, who is Love. If we instill love in one another, that love will grow to encompass us, and we will grow to love even more, and then, we will truly be worthy to be called God’s children, of God who is love.

May the Lord continue to bless us and strengthen us with His love, caring for us and providing for us, that we will always ever be covered by His grace and blessings. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 28 July 2013 : 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Luke 11 : 1-13

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” And Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say this :

Father, may Your Name be held holy,

May Your kingdom come;

give us each day the kind of bread we need,

and forgive us our sins, for we also forgive all who do us wrong;

and do not bring us to the test.”

Jesus said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to his house in the middle of the night and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine who is travelling has just arrived, and I have nothing to offer him.’

Maybe your friend will answer from inside, ‘Do not bother me now; the door is locked, and my children and I are in bed, so I cannot get up and give you anything.’ But I tell you, even though he will not get up and attend to you because you are a friend, yet he will get up because you are a brother to him, and he will give you all you need.

And so I say to you, ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For the one who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to him who knocks the door will be opened.

If your child asks for a fish, will you give him a snake instead? And if your child asks for an egg, will you give him a scorpion? If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”