Saturday, 25 October 2014 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture and Gospel readings are very clear in that they gave us great and precious advice on how to live our lives and how to be faithful to our Lord and God. The readings showed how God is not an unjust and cruel God who is only concerned about punishing us for our sins, nor would He unjustly punish us without good reason.

God is loving and merciful, and He is willing to welcome us back into His love. Indeed, it is not just that He is willing to do so, but He indeed wants to bring us back into His embrace, and thus He sent us Apostles, disciples, messengers, prophets and other helpers endlessly to be our guides and to help us to orientate ourselves, to avoid being recaptured by the hands of Satan and by the power of sin and to help us to live righteously and justly according to the will of God.

But, this is not the only thing we need to know about the Lord. Our Lord and God is indeed loving and merciful, but at the same time, He is also just and a hater of all forms of sins. I have often mentioned this before, and I would like to repeat it again, for the benefit of all the faithful who hear this message. This is because many of us seem to fall under the lie and delusion that God is loving and merciful only, overlooking the other aspects of Him that we need to understand if we are to achieve salvation in God.

We live in a time when our sensitivities towards sin had been diluted and weakened, and the culture of death and wickedness that is in the world, and which is continuing to change the world in accordance to what Satan wishes, is harming us all, brothers and sisters in Christ. Many of our fellow men were ensnared in the web of deception and temptation set up by the devil, who is and will always be active and about to bring about the downfall of as many souls as possible.

While in the past, sin is sin and being sinful brought about great regrets and repentance, now people often no longer regard their sinful acts as something wrong or something to be regretted. Their casual attitude towards sin is harmful, and that was also why they have committed even more and more sin in their lives. Many have the misconception that God understands them and will forgive them no matter what their sins are, but they were really completely wrong, and if they continue in this attitude, they are in great danger, both soul and body.

The lack of apprehension and disgust towards sin by men, especially in the world of our time is truly unbelievable and dangerous. Instead of seeking God’s mercy and repent for even the smallest sins that we have, we continue to commit sin and disregarding God’s laws and commandments, doing as we like in this life, thinking that God will forgive us in the end because of His love.

But we have to remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that the Lord hates sin in all of its forms and sin is the greatest barrier that separate us from the love of God. As long as the taints of sin remain on our selves, on our body and soul, and we do not repent from those sins, we cannot approach and be one with our Lord and God. That is because, despite of His love and mercy, grace for all of us can only be achieved if we take concrete steps and actions to truly commit ourselves to the Lord.

Thus, that is why the Church, as the guardian of the Faith as it was given to us by Christ through His Apostles, kept the stance on having mercy only when the sinner is truly repentant and desire true forgiveness of sins, not by an easy path, but through gracious devotion to the way of the Lord and by acts of reparation to repay the debts of sin which the sinner had incurred against the Lord.

There are indeed pressures from this world and all who are aligned with Satan and the forces of darkness, as we recently witnessed in the recent Extraordinary Synod on the Family, which had just been concluded at the end of last week. The social media and media in general, in all of their various forms aired their opinions pushing for the agenda to destroy the Faith and the Church, which was advocated by even some within the Church.

Yes, it is the advocation of false and deceiving mercy to sinners, and the notion that the Church tolerates sin, that is most dangerous, not just for those who have committed those grievous sins, but even for the righteous within the Church of God. If we allow this corruption and debauchery of the world to make its way into the Faith and the Church, we are bringing ruin and disaster upon ourselves.

God reminds us through Jesus that He always wants to give us chances and opportunities, as what Jesus told in His parable of the fig tree that did not bear any fruit and was barren. The fig tree was given another chance by the Lord, who gave it another chance to redeem itself, before it is given up for cutting and burning. Thus, in the same way God had given us chance, and even many chances for us to repent and become better, and abandon our sinful ways.

Therefore, it is imperative for all of us to put our complete trust in Jesus Christ our Lord, the root of Faith, the One who is our anchor in our faith and life. Just as St. Paul had written in his letter to the Church and the faithful in the city of Ephesus, he pointed out that the Lord Jesus came to this world to rescue us and to give us new hope, through sincere repentance and humility to seek God’s mercy.

If we do these, then Christ, whose death has washed away our sins and whose resurrection from the dead offer us new hope in life, will bring us from the shadow of death and into the liberated life in God. Mercy cannot be separated from repentance, or otherwise the mercy will be false mercy and bring harm instead of goodness.

Hence, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all detach ourselves from the impurities of this world and purify ourselves in faith. May Almighty God bless us with faith and His love, and may He help us to guard us from the depredations of sin. May all of us get closer to the Lord and put all of our trust to Him, and with Him as our anchor in life, let us all humbly seek His mercy and sincerely offer our repentance to Him, that He may justify us in our repentance and faith. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 25 October 2014 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Luke 13 : 1-9

At that time, some people told Jesus what had occurred in the Temple : Pilate had had Galileans killed, and their blood mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.

Jesus asked them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered this? No, I tell you. But unless you change your ways, you will all perish as they did.”

“And those eighteen persons in Siloah, who were crushed when the tower fell, do you think they were more guilty than all the others in Jerusalem? I tell you : no. But unless you change your ways, you will all perish as they did.”

And Jesus continued with this story, “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it, but found none. Then he said to the gardener, ‘Look here, for three years now I have been looking for figs on this tree, and I have found none. Cut it down, why should it use up the ground?'”

“The gardener replied, ‘Leave it one more year, so that I may dig around it and add some fertiliser; perhaps it will bear fruit from now on. But if it does not, you can cut it down.'”

Saturday, 25 October 2014 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 121 : 1-2, 3-4a, 4b-5

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” And now we have set foot within your gates, o Jerusalem!

Jerusalem, just like a city, where everything falls into place! There the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, the assembly of Israel.

To give thanks to the Lord’s Name. There stand the courts of justice, the offices of the house of David.

Saturday, 25 October 2014 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Ephesians 4 : 7-16

But to each of us divine grace is given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said : ‘When He ascended to the heights, He brought captives and gave His gifts to people.’

‘He ascended,’ what does it mean but that He had also descended to the lower parts of the world? He Himself who went down, then ascended far above all the heavens to fill all things. As for His gifts, to some He gave to be Apostles, to others prophets, or even evangelists, or pastors and teachers.

So He prepared those who belong to Him for the ministry, in order to build up the Body of Christ, until we are all united in the same faith and knowledge of the Son of God. Thus we shall become the perfect Man, upon reaching maturity and sharing the fullness of Christ.

Then no longer shall we be like children tossed about by any wave or wind of doctrine, and deceived by the cunning of people who dragged them along into error. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we shall grow in every way towards Him who is the Head, Christ.

From Him comes the growth of the whole body to which a network of joints gives order and cohesion, taking into account and making use of the function of each one. So the body builds itself in love.

Friday, 24 October 2014 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are called to examine our own lives and the actions which we have taken in this life, and to ignore no longer our sinfulness and disobedience against the way and the will of the Lord. Our Lord Jesus Christ had made it very clear in the Gospel that we heard today, on how mankind can see things around them and made accurate prediction of things, but they failed to see what is in their own hearts.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is often indeed that we look at the outside and the exterior, seeing things around us and make a judgment, and we are indeed quick to judge and to come into a conclusion, but we fail to see what is inside us, the phenomena that is inside us, which is sin. And they also failed to see what the Lord had done, and when He came in the form of flesh in Jesus, they failed to recognise Him even though they were so apt and good in recognising everything else.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is the major weakness of mankind, as we often fail to recognise our own frailty and weaknesses, just as Jesus said, how we often like to point out the weakness in others and the sins of others, and yet we fail to see our own weakness, and this weakness is our sin and our iniquities. We are quick to point finger to blame others, but whenever we do so, we have to realise that while one finger is pointed at others, the other four fingers are pointed at us.

Sin is dangerous, brothers and sisters in Christ, for sin corrupts many things and sin prevents us from recognising the good that is around us. It covered our hearts in jealousy, pride, arrogance, hatred, desire, doubt and many other negative influences and aspects that prevent us from seeing good in others, seeing the bad in ourselves, seeing the good in ourselves, and ultimately, failing to see God who is ever present with us, and who guide us to the right path.

Do you wonder why the people of God failed to recognise Jesus when He came into the world, even though it was so obvious from what He had done during His life and ministry that He was the promised One, the Holy Anointed One of God whom the prophets had talked about throughout their many ministries among the people of God. The Scriptures and the Law themselves had also spoken about the Messiah who was about to come, and yet the people blinded by their sinfulness failed to realise this.

They persecuted the prophets and servants of God in their refusal to listen to the truth, because the truth was often painful for them, pointing out their shortcomings and inability to look into themselves and realise their sins. Thus in the same way, they too rejected Jesus the Messiah when He came among the people to do the same yet again.

They were too engrossed in themselves and in their own world, just as exemplified by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were adamantly against Jesus and His teachings. This is ironic considering that they were the ones who should know the most about the teachings of Moses, of the prophets and their prophecies, and of course of the Law. Thus, they should be the ones who proclaimed His coming and recognised Him through what He had done.

The sin in their hearts, which they allowed to grow accompanying their human desires and greed prevented them from doing so, and in the same manner, they incited the people of God to avoid following and trusting Jesus, by spreading lies about Him, all because of their jealousy, the jealousy of their hearts and the fear of losing their influence and power, as well as prestige and fame among the people. They feared losing these and put their own human ego ahead of their duty and responsibility of proclaiming the coming of God to His people.

It is indeed easy for us to point our own fingers at them, but are we too totally blameless? That is why it is nigh time for us to start examining our own lives and actions. How many times we actually refused to listen to the Lord speaking in our hearts and instead decide to follow our own desires and greed? How many times is it that in our live we have caused hurt and even harm to others because of our own selfishness?

Thus, if we look at ourselves, we are no better than the people of Jesus’ time and the Pharisees. Although we profess our faith in God, but our actions often said otherwise. Hence, brethren, this is the best time for us to begin to reinspect and reform our lives for the better according to what God had taught us. If we follow His ways, we will surely change and be transformed to better people.

And I would like to share with all of you the life of a saint whose feast we celebrate today, and whose life can also be an inspiration for us in walking in the path of the Lord. He is St. Anthony Mary Claret, the founder of the religious order famously known as the Claretians after their founder. St. Anthony Mary Claret was a bishop who lived in Spain about two centuries ago, who was renowned for his zeal and faith in God, and in the numerous works which he had done as a missionary and later as an Archbishop, establishing many good charitable acts and works for the sake of the least and the lost ones of the society.

St. Anthony Mary Claret served in many functions as a servant of God and His Church, zealously spreading the word of God to many people, especially to those who have yet to listen to the word and the Good News. He established many works and institutions of charity to help the poor and the marginalised in the society, and through his preaching, calling many of them to embrace the love and faith in God.

St. Anthony Mary Claret also wrote extensively on many aspects of the faith, and which writings become inspiration for many of the faithful in the years to come, including up to our generation, where his works and dedications for the people of God is truly a model for us all to follow. He reminded us indeed that in order for us to be true disciples of Christ, we cannot allow our personal and human vulnerabilities to come in the way of our faith.

That means we have to restrain ourselves, our human desire and emotions, and make the effort not to be controlled by these, as the people of the past and the Pharisees had done. We have to break free from the slavery and tyranny of sin, and thus we should really understand our own sinfulness, and seek ways to handle what had made us sin in the first place. Therefore, the key lies in humility and willingness to listen to the Lord and to walk in His ways, as well as our persistence and perseverance to resist the temptations that will always come our way.

Therefore, as St. Paul mentioned in the letter he wrote to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus, let us all be true servants of God and give ourselves completely and wholly to the Holy Spirit of God, which unites us in one Body of the Church of God, and in that unity, may we together find our way towards the Lord, avoiding all forms of fornications and corruptions.

May Almighty God strengthen our faith and help us to grow in our love and devotion towards Him, and with the inspiration by St. Anthony Mary Claret and the other holy saints, may we be able to find our way to the Lord, by doing what is right and just in the eyes of God, and by being able to look deep within ourselves, seeking the Lord’s mercy with humility for all the iniquities and sins we have committed. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 24 October 2014 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Luke 12 : 54-59

At that time, Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it happens. And when the wind blows from the south, you say, ‘It will be hot’; and so it is.”

“You superficial people! You understand the signs of the earth and the sky, but you do not understand the present times. And why do you not judge for yourselves what is fit?”

“When you go with your accuser before the court, try to settle the case on the way, lest he drag you before the judge, and the judge deliver you to the jailer, and the jailer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

Friday, 24 October 2014 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 23 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord, the world and all that dwell in it. He has founded it upon the ocean and set it firmly upon the waters.

Who will ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who will stand in His holy place? Those with clean hands and pure heart, who desire not what is vain.

They will receive blessings from the Lord, a reward from God, their Saviour. Such are the people who seek Him, who seek the face of Jacob’s God.