Wednesday, 25 May 2016 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, and Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope, and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests, Popes and Virgins)

1 Peter 1 : 18-25

Remember that you were freed from the useless way of life of your ancestors, not with gold and silver but with the precious Blood of the Lamb without spot or blemish. God, Who has known Christ before the world began, revealed Him to you in the last days.

Through Him, you have faith in God Who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him in order that you might put all your faith and hope in God. In obeying the truth, you have gained interior purification from which comes sincere mutual love. Love one another, then, with all your heart, since you are born again, not from mortal beings, but with enduring life, through the Word of God Who lives and remains forever.

It is written : All flesh is grass and its glory like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flower falls, but the Word of the Lord endures forever. This Word is the Gospel which has been brought to you.

Sunday, 20 March 2016 : Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, Holy Week (Passion Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 22 : 14 – Luke 23 : 56 (Palm Sunday Year C)

When the hour came, Jesus took His place at the table and the Apostles with Him. And He said to them, “I was eager to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for, I tell you, I shall not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”

Then they passed Him a cup, and when He had given thanks, He said, “Take this, and share it among yourselves; for I tell you that, from now on, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.” Jesus also took bread, and after giving thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My Body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

And after the supper, He did the same with the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant, sealed in My Blood, which is poured out for you. Yet the hand of the traitor is with Me on the table. Know that the Son of Man is going the way marked out for Him. But alas for that one who betrays Him!”

They began to ask one another which of them could do such a thing. They also began to argue among themselves which of them should be considered the most important. And Jesus said, “The kings of the pagan nations rule over them as lords, and the most hard-hearted rulers claim the title, ‘Gracious Lord.'”

“But not so with you; let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is the greatest, he who sits at the table or he who serves? He who is seated, isn’t it? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”

“You are the ones who have been with Me, and stood by Me, through My troubles; because of this, just as the kingship has been given to Me by My Father, so I give it to you. You will eat and drink at My table at My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones and govern the twelve tribes of Israel.”

“Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded to sift you like grain, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have recovered, you shall strengthen your brothers.” Then Peter said, “Lord, with You I am ready to go even to prison and death.” But Jesus replied, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day before you have denied three times that you know Me.”

Jesus also said to them, “When I sent you without purse or bag or sandals, were you short of anything?” They answered, “No.” And Jesus said to them, “But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and a bag as well. And if anyone is without a sword, let hm sell his cloak to buy one. For Scripture says : ‘He was numbered among criminals.’ These words have to be fulfilled in Me, and now everything written about Me is taking place.”

Then they said, “See, Lord, here are two swords!” But He answered, “That is enough.”

After this, Jesus left to go as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed Him. When He came to the place, He told them, “Pray that you may not be put to the test.” Then He went a little further, about a stone’s throw, and kneeling down He prayed, “Father, if it is You will, remove this cup from Me; however, not My will but Yours be done.” And an angel from heaven appeared to give Him strength.

As He was in agony, He prayed even more earnestly, and great drops of blood formed like sweat and fell to the ground. When He rose from prayer, He went to His disciples, but found them worn out with grief, and asleep. And He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Get up and pray, so that you may not be put to the test.”

Jesus was still speaking when a group appeared, and the man named Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss Him, and Jesus said to him, “Judas, with a kiss do you betray the Son of Man?”

Those with Jesus, seeing what would happen, said to Him, “Master, shall we use the sword?” And one of them struck the HIgh Priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus stopped him, “No more of this!” He touched the man’s ear and healed him.

Then Jesus spoke to those coming against Him, the chief priests, officers of the Temple and elders; and He said to them, “Did you really set out against a robber? Do you need swords and clubs to arrest Me? Day after day I was among you, teaching in the Temple, and you did not arrest Me. But this is the hour of the power of darkness; this is your hour.”

Then they seized Him and took Him away, bringing Him to the High Priest’s house. Peter followed at a distance. A fire was kindled in the middle of the courtyard, where people were gathered, and Peter sat among them. A maidservant noticed him. Looking at him intently in the light if the fire, she exclaimed, “This man also was with Him!” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”

A little later, someone who saw Him said, “You are also one of them!” Peter replied, “My friend, I am not!” After about an hour another asserted, “Surely this man was with Him, for he is a Galilean.”

Again Peter denied, “My friend, I don’t know what you are talking about.” He had not finished saying this, when a cock crowed. The Lord turned around and looked at Peter, and Peter remembered the word that the Lord had spoken, “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter went outside, weeping bitterly.

And the guards, who had arrested Jesus, mocked and beat Him. They blindfolded Him, struck Him, and then asked, “Who hit You? Tell us, prophet!” And they hurled many other insulting words at him.

At daybreak, the council of the elders of the people, among whom were the chief priests and the scribes, assembled again. Then they had Jesus brought before them, and they began questioning Him, “Tell us, are You the Christ?” Jesus replied, “You will not believe, if I tell you, and neither will you answer, if I ask you. Yet from now on, the Son of Man will have His seat at the right hand of the MIghty God.”

In chorus they asked, “So you are the Son of God?” And Jesus said to them, “You are right, I am.” Then they said, “What need have we of witnesses? We have heard it from His own lips.

The whole council rose and brought Jesus to Pilate. They gave their accusation : “We found this Man subverting our nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and claming to be Christ the King.

Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You said so.” Turning to the chief priests and the crowd, Pilate said, “I find no basis for a case against this Man.” But they insisted, “All the country of the Jews is being stirred up with His teaching. He began in Galilee and now He has come all the way here.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked if the Man was a Galilean. Finding the accused to come under Herod’s jurisdiction, Pilate sent Jesus over to Herod, who happened to be in Jerusalem at that time. Herod was delighted to have Jesus before him now; for a long time he had wanted to see Him because of the reports about Him, and he was hoping to see Jesus work some miracle. He piled up question upon question, but got no reply from Jesus.

All the while, the chief priests and the scribes remained standing there, vehemently pressing their accusations. Finally, Herod ridiculed Him and with his guards mocked him. And when he had put a rich cloak on Him, he sent Him back to Pilate. Pilate and Herod, who were enemies before, became friends from that day.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the elders and the people, and said to them, “You have brought this Man before me and accused Him of subversion. In your presence, I have examined Him and found no basis for your charges; and neither has Herod, for he sent Him back to me. It is quite clear that this Man has done nothing that deserves a death sentence. I will therefore have Him scourged and then release Him.”

On the Passover, Pilate had to release a prisoner. Therefore, shouting as one man, they protested, “No! Away with this Man! Release Barabbas instead!” This man had been thrown into prison for an uprising in the city and for murder.

Since Pilate wanted to release Jesus, he appealed to the crowd once more, but they shouted back, “To the cross with Him! To the cross!” A third time Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done? Since no crime deserving death has been proved, I shall have Him scourged and let Him go.”

But they went on shouting and demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their shouts grew louder. So Pilate decided to pass the sentence they demanded. He released the man they asked for, the one who was in prison for rebellion and murder, and he handed Jesus over in accordance with their wishes.

When they led Jesus away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the fields, and laid the cross on him, to carry it behind Jesus. A large crowd of people followed Him; among them were women, beating their breasts and grieving for Him, but Jesus turned to them and said, “Women of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me! Weep rather for yourselves and for your children, for the days are coming when people will say, ‘Happy are the women without child! Happy are those who have not given birth or nursed a child!'”

“And they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if this is the lot of the green wood, what will happen to the dry?

Along with Jesus, two criminals also were led out to be executed. There, at the place called the Skull, He was crucified together with two criminals – one on His right and another on His left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And the guards cast lots to divide His clothes among themselves.

The people stood by, watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at Him, saying to one another, “Let the Man who saved others now save Himself, for He is the Messiah, the chosen One of God!” The soldiers also mocked Him and, when they drew near to offer Him bitter wine, they said, “So You are the king of the Jews? Free Yourself!”

Above Jesus there was a inscription in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted Him, “So You are the Messiah? Save Yourself, and us as well!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as He did? For us it is just : this is payment for what we have done. But this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me, when You come into Your Kingdom.”

Jesus replied, “Truly, you will be with Me today in paradise.”

It was almost midday. The sun was hidden, and darkness came over the whole land until mid-afternoon; and, at that time, the curtain of the Sanctuary was torn in two. Then Jesus gave a loud cry, “Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit.” And saying that, He gave up His Spirit.

The captain, on seeing what had happened, acknowledged the hand of God, “Surely this was an upright Man!” he said. And all the people who had gathered to watch the spectacle, as soon as they saw what had happened, went home beating their breasts.

But those who knew Jesus remained there, at a distance, especially the women, who had followed Him from Galilee; they witnessed all this.

Then intervened a member of the Jewish supreme council, a good and righteous man named Joseph, from the Judean town of Arimathea. He had not agreed with the decision and action of his fellow members, and he lived uprightly in the hope of seeing the kingdom of God. Joseph went to Pilate, and asked for Jesus’ body. He then took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a yet unused tomb, cut out of a rock.

It was Preparation Day, and the star which marks the beginning of the Sabbath was shining. So the women, who had come with Jesus from Galilee, followed Joseph to see the tomb, and how His body was laid. And returning home, they prepared perfumes and ointments. And on the Sabbath day, they rested, as the Law required.

 

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Luke 23 : 1-49

The whole council rose and brought Jesus to Pilate. They gave their accusation : “We found this Man subverting our nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and claming to be Christ the King.

Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You said so.” Turning to the chief priests and the crowd, Pilate said, “I find no basis for a case against this Man.” But they insisted, “All the country of the Jews is being stirred up with His teaching. He began in Galilee and now He has come all the way here.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked if the Man was a Galilean. Finding the accused to come under Herod’s jurisdiction, Pilate sent Jesus over to Herod, who happened to be in Jerusalem at that time. Herod was delighted to have Jesus before him now; for a long time he had wanted to see Him because of the reports about Him, and he was hoping to see Jesus work some miracle. He piled up question upon question, but got no reply from Jesus.

All the while, the chief priests and the scribes remained standing there, vehemently pressing their accusations. Finally, Herod ridiculed Him and with his guards mocked him. And when he had put a rich cloak on Him, he sent Him back to Pilate. Pilate and Herod, who were enemies before, became friends from that day.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the elders and the people, and said to them, “You have brought this Man before me and accused Him of subversion. In your presence, I have examined Him and found no basis for your charges; and neither has Herod, for he sent Him back to me. It is quite clear that this Man has done nothing that deserves a death sentence. I will therefore have Him scourged and then release Him.”

On the Passover, Pilate had to release a prisoner. Therefore, shouting as one man, they protested, “No! Away with this Man! Release Barabbas instead!” This man had been thrown into prison for an uprising in the city and for murder.

Since Pilate wanted to release Jesus, he appealed to the crowd once more, but they shouted back, “To the cross with Him! To the cross!” A third time Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done? Since no crime deserving death has been proved, I shall have Him scourged and let Him go.”

But they went on shouting and demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their shouts grew louder. So Pilate decided to pass the sentence they demanded. He released the man they asked for, the one who was in prison for rebellion and murder, and he handed Jesus over in accordance with their wishes.

When they led Jesus away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the fields, and laid the cross on him, to carry it behind Jesus. A large crowd of people followed Him; among them were women, beating their breasts and grieving for Him, but Jesus turned to them and said, “Women of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me! Weep rather for yourselves and for your children, for the days are coming when people will say, ‘Happy are the women without child! Happy are those who have not given birth or nursed a child!'”

“And they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if this is the lot of the green wood, what will happen to the dry?

Along with Jesus, two criminals also were led out to be executed. There, at the place called the Skull, He was crucified together with two criminals – one on His right and another on His left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And the guards cast lots to divide His clothes among themselves.

The people stood by, watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at Him, saying to one another, “Let the Man who saved others now save Himself, for He is the Messiah, the chosen One of God!” The soldiers also mocked Him and, when they drew near to offer Him bitter wine, they said, “So You are the king of the Jews? Free Yourself!”

Above Jesus there was a inscription in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted Him, “So You are the Messiah? Save Yourself, and us as well!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as He did? For us it is just : this is payment for what we have done. But this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me, when You come into Your Kingdom.”

Jesus replied, “Truly, you will be with Me today in paradise.”

It was almost midday. The sun was hidden, and darkness came over the whole land until mid-afternoon; and, at that time, the curtain of the Sanctuary was torn in two. Then Jesus gave a loud cry, “Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit.” And saying that, He gave up His Spirit.

The captain, on seeing what had happened, acknowledged the hand of God, “Surely this was an upright Man!” he said. And all the people who had gathered to watch the spectacle, as soon as they saw what had happened, went home beating their breasts.

But those who knew Jesus remained there, at a distance, especially the women, who had followed Him from Galilee; they witnessed all this.

Sunday, 4 October 2015 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hebrews 2 : 9-11

But Jesus who suffered death and for a little while was placed lower than the angels has been crowned with honour and glory. For the merciful plan of God demanded that He experience death on behalf of everyone.

God, from whom all come and by whom all things exist, wanted to bring many children to glory, and He thought it fitting to make perfect through suffering the Initiator of their salvation. So He who gives and those who receive holiness are One. He Himself is not ashamed of calling us brothers and sisters.

Sunday, 12 October 2014 : 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the readings of this Sunday refers very, very clearly to the loving nature of our Lord, God and Father, who created all of us at the beginning of time, to be the most beloved of all His creations. He is truly like a father to us all, giving us life and all that we need, and He paved the path for us in our lives, guiding us in all the things that we do, that even though we often do not realise what He had done, but He is indeed there, watching over us and leading us towards Himself.

God who loves us has prepared all goodness for us, and He has blessed us with great riches, all the inheritance which are promised to us. This is shown by Jesus, when He told the people and His disciples, of the parable of the king and the banquet, where He told them of a king who prepared a great feast and invited many people to come to His banquet.

The banquet represented the promise of good life and eternal joy with God, and just as the king intended to celebrate and be merry with all those who had been invited to the feast, God intended for all of us, His beloved creations, to enjoy the fullness of happiness with Him. That was exactly also what He intended for us at the beginning. But like the guests who refused to come and listen to the king, our ancestors beginning from Adam also refused to listen to God and His will.

The guests might have a variety of reasons for not coming to the banquet prepared for them, and we may not know them, since it was never mentioned by Jesus. But certainly, by observing our own human behaviours and reactions, surely we are able to easily predict them. The guests might have had other businesses and commitments to handle, but then we can ask, has the king not given them the notice for the banquet in advance? And what is so important that they should skip the banquet of the king for something else?

Thus the same often happens to us, as we live our lives in this world. How often is it that when God calls us and guides us to His ways, that we said no to them and quickly go about worrying about our own selves? How often is it that we prefer to follow our own hearts’ desires and wants, rather than to listen to God and follow His will for us? We often complained that God interferes in our lives on one hand, saying that we prefer to do things on our own, but on the other hand, when we are in trouble, we are also quick to blame God for not helping us when we are in need.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, men are not easy to satisfy, and our hearts continue to lead us to listen to our own desires and wants. It is within our human nature to succumb to the temptations of our flesh, and as a result, like the guests, we tend to regard our own concerns as priority, thinking about ourselves first and how to please ourselves first before that of others.

And the other possible ‘reason’ for their disobedience is indeed their laziness and sloth, preferring to remain idle in the comfort of their houses rather than to travel to the king’s palace to attend the banquet. And this we can indeed relate to ourselves, on how we tend to be slothful in this life, refusing the apparently more difficult path which the Lord offered us, and prefer the ‘easy’ and happy life which this world apparently gives.

Thus I would also like to share with you what St. Faustina Kowalska, the one who introduced the devotion to the Divine Mercy, had seen in one of her visions. She saw two paths and men who walked along these two paths. One path is a path that is filled with flowers and wonderful things, wide and pleasant to walk on, while the other path is a path filled with thorns, obstacles, and both narrow and difficult to walk on.

But then, she saw that the easy and pleasant path hide a terrible secret, that at the end, the many people who walked on that path, fell into an endless chasm that suddenly arose on the path of the road, and many were unaware of the chasm, and fell into the chasm as they walked. Meanwhile, on the narrow and difficult road, much fewer people travelled through it, but even as those who persevered on continued, when they reached the end, they found a very beautiful garden filled with goodness, where they lived on ever after.

Thus, the vision presented us yet again, that the Lord offers us goodness and the promise of eternal happiness in Him, and He will not renege on the promise which He had made and renewed over the many generations again and again. It is our choice whether we follow Him and trust in Him, or instead trust in Satan who ought not to be trusted. He leads us into damnation with him, but he is very clever indeed, and as we know in how he tried to tempt even Jesus, he offered all the goodness which he can offer us, be it food, power, wealth or glory, or other things that fulfill and satisfy our desires.

Thus we must be vigilant, and we cannot let go our our guard against the possible assaults by Satan, who awaits at every corner hoping to deceive us and lead us into harm. And that was why Jesus continued His story, by saying that after the king in his anger had destroyed all those who had disobeyed and spurned his invitation, he invited many others who were brought to his banquet instead of the first invited.

This is to highlight first the fate that all those who refused to listen to God, and prefer to follow their own paths and desires is death and destruction, just as those who walked the easy path fell into the chasm of infinite suffering in the vision of St. Faustina Kowalska. The path which the Lord offers may not seem easy, and indeed that obstacles will be plenty, but if we remain faithful to the end, we will be richly rewarded.

And then, when Jesus mentioned about the man who came to the banquet not wearing the proper banquet garment, He was in fact referring to how we lead our faith life. In being faithful to the Lord, we cannot be half-hearted, and in our effort to seek the Lord our God we cannot be divided between Him and something else. Thus, when we come to the banquet of the Lord, we too cannot be divided in our hearts, our minds and our souls.

What is this banquet of the Lord which God had prepared for all of us? That is none other than the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, where we celebrate in unity with the singular act of God’s greatest act of love for us all, that is His sacrifice, suffering and death on the cross, where He bared Himself to all those whom He loved, offering Himself as the perfect offering for the reparation and the redemption of all of us from our sins.

And just as the king prepared lavish food and drinks in the banquet, so thus the Lord also gave the best of all food and drink to all of us, who comes to His banquet, that is His own Precious Body and Precious Blood. Remember when Jesus said that those who eat of His Body and drink of His Blood will not die but live eternally with God? And that is the case indeed. If we are to come to attend the banquet, that is the Holy Mass, should we not then be properly ‘attired’?

This attire does not mean just that we should be properly attired with proper clothing and wear when we come for the Mass. Certainly we do not come to the banquet of the Lord wearing clothes as if we are about to go for a picnic or a leisure walk. Instead we should wear our very best and look our very best to honour the Lord our God. However, if this is as far as we go, then it is not enough.

How many of us attend the Holy Mass and yet our minds are not in the Mass at all? How many of us prefer to talk among ourselves and with our friends, and also to pay attention to our phones and other communication devices, contacting persons even outside the Holy Mass, and not to focus our heart, mind and soul to the Lord, who should be at the centre of the celebration? Ought the king not be given his proper place in his own banquet? And thus, should we not indeed give the Lord the proper adoration and respect He deserve in the Mass?

Think about these, brothers and sisters in Christ. There are two key messages which our Lord Jesus Christ and His revelations through the Scriptures want to tell us all today. First is that, we have a choice, either to follow the easier way out, that is to follow what we want and disregard the Lord, or to follow Him, and walk in His ways, even though that path might indeed be difficult and challenging. But the reward is clear, while the first path leads to destruction in the end, the path of the Lord never disappoints.

And then second, that if we choose to follow the Lord, He who loves us so much that He gave us everything, and held back not even His own Son, to bear our sins and die for our sake, that we may have life in Him, we cannot be half-hearted or be divided in our hearts, in our souls, and in our minds’ desires to follow Him. We cannot serve both God and our own heart’s desire, that is the temptations of the flesh.

And thus, as I have mentioned, we have to give it all, at the banquet of the Lord where He had given His own Body and Blood to us, in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, that we have to be fully prepared and properly attired in our body, in our mind, in our soul, and in our hearts. Our focus should be completely on the Lord. Look at Him who is in the Eucharist, and focus our entire being to Him! If we do so, then He, who is the King of all, will approve of us and our actions, and justify us in our faith.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we go on with our lives from today onwards, let us all dedicate ourselves anew and renew our commitment to the Lord. Let us from now on attend and fully participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, giving our Lord all of our love and devotion, just as He had loved us first to the fullness of His heart, that He even gave us His life.

May Almighty God be with us all, and may He guide us to Himself, that amidst all the difficulties and challenges which we may and will indeed encounter, we may remain faithful, and with our gaze fixed at Him, may we gain the promise of eternal life, which God gives freely to all who are true to Him in faith and love. Amen.

Friday, 27 June 2014 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast that is truly important for us, that is the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, celebrating the very love that God has for us, and which He had shown to us through Jesus Christ, His life and ministry, and ultimately the death He faced on the cross, all the pure and concrete show of His love for us.

Today we also celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life, that is we pray for the priests and all those who had dedicated themselves to the Lord, to keep themselves holy and faithful, that they will keep themselves, in their thoughts, in their actions and in their deeds, to be always holy and representative of the Lord, and bring glory to Him through their actions.

God had chosen them out of His people to serve them, and to be His consecrated ones, to live life in holiness, and to help spread the love He had shown to the world through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the actual and concrete manifestation of God’s love to us, the love made flesh, and the Word of God made flesh. Through Jesus God wants to tell us that He loves us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God loves us so much, and I keep on telling this to all of you repeatedly, because many of us fail to realise this, and we fail to realise how every single breath we take, and this life, are all because of His love for us. If not for His love and mercy, we would all have perished and be destroyed because of our sins and iniquities.

Instead, God who hates sin and rebellion against His will, is willing to look beyond our sinfulness and desires to welcome us back into His presence, after we have repented and changed our ways, that we leave behind our sinfulness and wicked lives, changing them for a new life in God. And He gave us the ultimate gift of His love, a concrete and real gift in Jesus, the proof of the ultimate love of God for us.

Brethren, the love of God has descended from the Lord and to us, through Jesus, whose heart is always filled with love and concern for each and every one of us. The devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is a relatively recent occurrence, having been institutionalised only a few hundred years ago. However, this was born from the desire of mankind to recognise that love which God has for each and every one of us.

The Lord does not seek our destruction or for us to perish because of our sins, unless if we ourselves refuse to be saved. As we had heard in the Gospel today, through Jesus our Lord, God wants us to come to Him and be saved. He offers freely His love for us, and He stretches His hands wide to welcome us back into His loving embrace and protection.

He will bring us enlightenment and rejuvenation if we change our ways to trust Him and repent from our past, sinful lives. But sadly, the reality is that many of us do not realise this love that God has for us, flowing freely and generously from His most loving and merciful heart. We either fear God because we fear the punishments and consequences of our sins and faults thus we fear to approach the Lord, or we are simply too engrossed in our worldly lives for us to notice this love, ending up in our ignorance of God’s love.

This devotion to the Sacred Heart and this celebration we have today is meant to remind us of God’s great love for us, which is evident and enshrined in His own Most Sacred Heart. Yes, brethren, a heart that is full of love for us, full of mercy for our plight, and full of compassion for our difficulties in this world. This is the essence of the celebration we have today, a celebration of God’s love and mercy through His Most Sacred Heart.

This love is now given to us through the extensions of His love, that is through His disciples and holy Apostles, and from them through our priests, bishops and all those who gave themselves to the service of God and His people. Our priests and all those devoted to a life of service to God through holy ordination had been entrusted with power, love and authority to be Alter Christus, or in simple terms, to be the Christ personified and living in the person of the priests.

As such, it is imperative and necessary that our priests to have that sanctity and holiness, that they may truly represent Christ in our world today. Let us all pray therefore, that our priests will be and will remain holy and thoroughly dedicated in their service to God and mankind. We pray that through the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus our Lord, they too may love tenderly and give of their love to those who are in great need for love.

Let us help one another, particularly our priests and religious, that our lives will be better aligned with the will of God, and that we will grow stronger in love and faith. God be with us all, and may the love of His Sacred Heart be with us and enter our heart, that we too may love one another and Him, just as He had loved us first. God be with us all. Amen.

Sunday, 27 April 2014 : 2nd Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, Canonisation of Pope St. John XXIII and Pope St. John Paul II (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is the Second Sunday of Easter, or since a few years ago, we also celebrate the greatness of our Lord’s merciful heart and love for us, in the Feast of the Divine Mercy. We celebrate today not just the joy of Easter and the resurrection of Christ, but the very love and mercy that God had shown us in giving us Jesus to be our Saviour and redeem us from certain death because of sin.

Today we have to reflect on this great mercy God had shown us through Jesus. Without this mercy, mankind would still dwell in darkness of this world and engulfed in sin, and therefore, condemned to damnation with Satan and his fellow fallen angels in the eternal torture of hell, bereft of God’s love and mercy in its entirety, where there is no longer any hope for us.

Instead, God who loves us resolved to let Himself be humiliated, scourged, tortured and mocked for our sake. He let Himself to be wounded and punished with the entirety of the weight of our sins, no matter how heavy they are. For our sins are the wounds that He bear, and His cross is our rebelliousness that He bore for our sake, that we may not suffer the consequences of our sins.

Today we celebrate the rising of two great and yet humble men to the Altar, that is our beloved Popes, the Successors of St. Peter, Blesseds Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. The now Saints Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II were great workers of love and mercy, proclaiming to the world the virtues of the Most Divine Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Pope St. John XXIII was the great proponent and champion of peace, seeking peace in a world beset by conflicts and hatred between one another, building bridges of dialogue and reconciliation where there were anger, hatred and violence. This is one of the great aspect and essence of mercy, showing to the world that we mankind should shun evil and hatred, as well as violence and dispute, in favour of love, forgiveness, cooperation and genuine mercy.

Divine Mercy of our Lord was truly at work, when Pope St. John XXIII carried out his mission as the Successor of St. Peter as the head of the Universal Church. Even in his life prior to his election as Pope, Pope St. John XXIII had been the embodiment of our Lord’s Divine Mercy, by acting in accordance to the Lord’s love, reaching out in particular to those who are bereft and longing for the Lord’s beautiful mercy.

Pope St. John XXIII as Angelo Roncalli prior to his election as Pope was sent as the diplomat of the Holy See, representing the Pope and the Church in various countries where strife was rampant, and divisions were evident among the faithful people of God, as the Apostolic Delegate to Bulgaria, he helped to bridge the differences between the faithful belonging to the Church and our separated brethren of the Constantinopolitan communion or the Eastern Orthodox. He helped foster a good relationship among the faithful and did not fear to help out a fellow brethren in need.

In essence, therefore, he had exercised the merciful aspect of the Lord who is the Divine Mercy. Pope St. John XXIII has also emulated the same example of Christ’s mercy by helping the Jews who were hunted down by the NAZIs to be exterminated by working hard to arrange their escape when he was the Apostolic Delegate to Turkey, and when a trainload of Jewish exiles attempted to escape death through Turkey.

There were much mercy in this new saint’s actions, and that is why he is today elevated to the glory of the Altar and officially recognised by the Church as a saint worthy of heavenly glory and honour. The other saint elevated today, Pope St. John Paul II whom many if us dearly and fondly remembered as the Pope of our time, also was a great man of mercy and love.

Pope St. John Paul II and his predecessors worked on the vision of a religious sister, who is known now as St. Faustina Kowalska on the Lord as the Divine Mercy. The Lord appeared to St. Faustina Kowalska asking for mankind to repent and change their sinful ways, and cling to His most merciful heart, which became the origin for the devotion towards the Divine Mercy of God, and the origin for today’s celebration on the Feast of the Divine Mercy, which falls on the second Sunday of Easter.

Pope St. John Paul II himself, as many of us know, is a man of great mercy, whose works of love and perseverance for the sake of the faithful is well known throughout the world. When he met an assassination attempt in 1981, on the day of the Feast of our Lady of Fatima, he forgave his to-be-assassin, and visited him in the prison, reconciling himself with the assassin in love.

This is one of the many examples of his acts of mercy, which is firmly founded on the foundations of faith, and his perseverance in fighting for the rights of the faithful against the Communist regime in Poland, his country, was truly remarkable. He did not fight the violence of the atheistic government with violence of his own, even when the people were on his side. He fought for the people with prayers and activism, promoting and championing for the faith through real action firmly grounded on the Christian faith.

Pope St. John Paul II was also well known for his championing of the Universal Call to Holiness, in which the faithful and people of God are encouraged to be models of the faith and walk in a life of holiness, which he helped encourage by the elevation of many holy men and women whose lives had been exemplary to be the role model for the faithful, that is for all of us to follow. These are the examples of the manifestation of the Lord’s love and mercy which came true in the lives of these holy men and women, including that of Popes St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II themselves.

In celebrating the elevation of these two great and yet humble Popes to the holy sainthood, we celebrate together with the entire Church for the propagation of the Lord’s Divine Mercy and love to all the peoples of all the nations, that from today on, through the examples in the lives of these two new saints and countless other holy men and women of God, we may learn of the Lord’s Divine Mercy and understand this great act of mercy.

God did not want us to suffer for the consequences of our sins, which entered our hearts and bodies and minds ever since Adam and Eve our first ancestors disobeyed the Lord and His will. That is why He sent us the greatest gift and help that He can provide us, in Jesus His Son, who suffered in our place, bearing our sins and all their burdens on His shoulders to the cross, where He laid down His own life for us, and by rising from the dead, He gave new hope of a new life to all of us who believe and who are ready to cast away our old lives of sin.

Yet we also have to remember at all times that God hates sin, in all its forms, no matter whether it is a small or a large sin. A sin is still a sin, and it separates us from being able to be perfectly reunited with the Lord who loves us. Sin is the barrier that prevents mankind from being free from the bonds and chains of death, and therefore, it is imperative for us to take the initiative to get rid of our sinfulness.

And the Lord who is also the Divine Mercy as He had revealed to St. Faustina Kowalska, has offered much mercy and opportunity for all of us to repent and turn again towards Him from our past sinful lives. It does not mean that God hates sin then we who have sinned will be condemned to perdition and death. It does not mean that we will be cast into hell immediately for our sins. Mankind are often very aware of their sins, but the danger of this is that because of this awareness, mankind became fearful of God and were afraid to seek God’s forgiveness and therefore fall deeper into sin.

We must not have this mentality or attitude towards God, because we know that the Lord is rich in mercy and slow to anger. Yes, just as much as He is wrathful and hateful against sins that we commit. What matters is for us to open our hearts to Him and allow His mercy to work wonders in us, and allowing His mercy to pierce to the greatest depths of our hearts that He may dwell in us and work His forgiveness in us.

Remember what Pope St. John Paul II had said to us? That we must not be afraid and open the doors wide to the Lord? And yes, therefore, we have to heed the words of this wise saint, and open wide the doors of our hearts to the forgiveness and mercy of God. Do not be afraid indeed, or else God’s mercy and forgiveness will not work its wonders on us, and we will remain in sin.

The problem with many of us and therefore mankind in general is that, not only that we fear the Lord and His wrath, but we also have great pride in us that we do not want to seek the Lord for forgiveness because of our ego. We keep our ego and heads held high, but for what? In the end, keeping our ego and pride will cost us dearly and we may be thrown into hell to suffer for eternity just because we refuse to lower ourselves before the mercy of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore today, as we rejoice with the entire Universal Church for the elevation of the two new saints from among our Popes, let us follow their examples and heed their words, that we show mercy in our own actions and open our hearts to the Lord, that His mercy and love may be poured into us, and make us all truly worthy and holy children of His, showing the examples of mercy in all our words, actions and deeds.

O, Pope St. John XXIII, pray and intercede for us that we may be agents of peace in this world, to show love and mercy of God to all through our actions, that may all hatred and violence cease, and that men will be brought closer to God, just as you had once worked hard for the sake of peace and equality for all mankind before God.

O, Pope St. John Paul II, pray and intercede for us that we may have our hearts opened for the Lord to enter, that we will not shut tight our doors before the Lord who knocks daily at them. Pray for us that we will not be afraid to open ourselves for others and show love and mercy in all of our actions, that we will be witnesses of the Lord’s most Divine Mercy.

May the Lord show His infinite mercy to us on this day, that we who have sinned before Him may turn our back against our past and sinful lives, that we may take concrete and real steps towards full reconciliation with our God. O, most Divine Mercy and loving Jesus, forgive us sinners and bring us closer to Your most loving heart. Amen.

Sunday, 27 April 2014 : 2nd Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, Canonisation of Pope St. John XXIII and Pope St. John Paul II (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 19-31

On the evening of that day, the first day after the Sabbath, the doors were locked where the disciples were, because of their fear of the Jews. But Jesus came, and stood among them, and said to them, “Peace be with you!” Then He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples kept looking at the Lord and were full of joy.

Again Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” After saying this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit! Those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”

Thomas, the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he replied, “Until I have seen in His hands the print of the nails, and put my fingers in the mark of the nails and my hand in His side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, the disciples were inside again and Thomas was with them. Despite the locked doors Jesus came and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; stretch out your hand, and put it into My side. Do not be an unbeliever! Believe!”

Thomas then said, “You are my Lord and my God.” Jesus replied, “You believe because you see Me, do you not? Happy are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

There were many other signs that Jesus gave in the presence of His disciples, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded, so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Believe, and you will have life through His Name!