Wednesday, 3 July 2013 : Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us should be happy, indeed, because we have faith in the Lord, even though we do not see Him physically walking with us in this world. Yes, He is with us, all the days of our life, even without us knowing about it. But how faithful are we to the Lord? We live in a world today that is obsessed with things visual and physical, and it is increasingly difficult for many to find God as something tangible in their lives.

St. Thomas did not believe at first because he was not at the meeting when Jesus appeared to His disciples, and the doubt and fear in his heart, which has grown ever since the tragic death of Christ on the cross, prevented him from believing in the Risen Lord, our God and Saviour. Indeed, for a rational man, and a man thinking about the natural order, it is simply impossible and unbelievable that someone could have risen from the dead, much less to appear physically to the living.

And yet, that is the truth that is our faith. Our faith has its core and foundation in our belief in the Christ suffering, Christ crucified, and ultimately, the most important of all, the Risen Christ, the conquering Lord of life and death, and no one has authority over Him, not even death. It is His triumph over death that is the centrepiece of our faith.

If Christ is just a man, and that He died on the cross, then that death would have been a waste, because then He would have ended His ministry in this world short. But the Lord is fully divine just as He is fully human. He is both the Lord our God, Lord of all the universe, and a humble, lowly man at the same time. His death and then His resurrection had opened a new door of hope for mankind. For Christ is the only bridge that bridged the infinite chasm that lie before us and God.

The Lord risen from the dead shows us that death does not have the final say on us. Throughout history, people have been searching for ways to prevent them from dying, and also to extend their life in this world, but they have failed to do so, because ever since the first mankind, death has always claimed all men without exception. Death is the fate and punishment that awaits all of us for breaking our covenant with the Lord, by our disobedience and sinful ways.

God who loves us did not give up on us, but gave us a new hope through Christ, the only hope for salvation. It is only through Christ that we can reach back towards the Lord our God. That is why our faith in Him as our Lord and Saviour is essential for all of us. But this world has been corrupted by evil, and as you noticed, the increasing influence of science and secularisation.

Science itself is not evil, and is indeed good, but it is the underlying principle of science, that championed reason and rationality above all things, and coupled with the great reduction in the influence of God and His Church to many, that brought much harm both to the world and to the Church, and of course, to the people of God.

Secularisation came because mankind began to discover many wonderful discoveries they claim for their own, and they began to question whether God is really present in their lives, and whether He is truly real. Mankind began to look for things that are real and tangible, and something that they can visually see and touch, just as the principles of science, which stated that something had to be proven by tests and reason so that it is the real deal. Because God seemed to be distant and intangible, mankind began to question their faith and walk away from the Lord, just as what happened to St. Thomas, who doubted that the Lord had risen from the dead, because he did not witness His appearing to the disciples.

That is why, it is important for all of us to remain faithful to the Lord. Faith is not just by being able to visually see something and then we believe, but faith involve more than just our vision and our sense of feel and touch, but it involves our hearts and soul. Deep in our hearts, all of us know that the Lord is there. He is real and tangible, through our actions, through our words, when we base them on His teachings. For is it not that God is Love? Yes, exactly as He had commanded us to love, through love, God is made manifest to the world, through the apostles, and through us.

God wants us to love Him, just as He had loved us, to the point of sacrificing Himself on the cross, that through the shedding of His Body and His Blood, we may be cleansed from the filth of sin, and be reunited with Him, in the everlasting bliss of eternal life. This Year of the Faith is a very good opportunity for all of us to renew our commitment to the Lord, so that we will be once again close to Him. St. Thomas’ example is an example of how we should indeed love the Lord even without us seeing Him. What we need is to feel Him through our hearts, through our love, that reflects the nature of God, who is Love.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us renew our resolve to the Lord, that we will be ever more faithful to Him, and ever more loving to Him and to all His children, our brethren. Let us all fall on our knees and worship Him who had given up His life for us so that we may live, and let our faith be an example for all the world to see, that we belong to our God, a God who loves us, cares for us, and is faithful to us, even when we ourselves had been unfaithful and rebellious.

May God grant us the gift of faith, and strengthen the faith in our heart, that the Lord will be ever close to us, in our heart, that we will always be in His grace, forever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013 : Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

John 20 : 24-29

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 finger 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, don’t you? Happy are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

Tuesday, 2 July 2013 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Matthew 8 : 23-27

Jesus got into the boat and His disciples followed Him. Without warning a fierce storm hit the lake, with waves sweeping the boat. But Jesus was asleep. They woke Him and cried, “Lord save us! We are lost!” But Jesus answered, “Why are you so afraid, you of little faith?” Then He stood up and rebuked the wind and sea; and it became completely calm.

The disciples were astonished. They said, “What kind of man is He? Even the winds and the sea obey Him.”

(Special) Sunday, 23 June 2013 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are celebrating the feast of the birth of St. John the Baptist, the relative of our Lord Jesus Christ by virtue of his mother, Elizabeth, being the cousin of Mary, the mother of our Lord. St. John the Baptist is known for his role in preparing the way for Christ, straightening the path for His arrival into this world, preceding the Lord Himself by a few months. He baptised peoples and asked them to repent from their sins, so that they would not fall into damnation, and be open for Christ when He came.

St. John the Baptist is a great saint, brothers and sisters, and he is considered by many to be one of the prophets reborn once again, particularly that of Elijah, sent by the Lord for the sake of Christ, as His messenger, and as His herald, proclaiming His arrival into the world. The events surrounding his birth is not ordinary either, because he was born out of an aging parent, an aging mother who could no longer conceive, but because of the power of the Lord and the Holy Spirit, conceived, and brought John into this world.

Like the passage in the first reading from the book of the prophet Jeremiah, the words themselves spoke about St. John the Baptist and his life, in that he had been chosen by the Lord since his conception, and before he was even born, as the angel told Zechariah, John’s father in the Temple of Jerusalem. He had been chosen from among many, to be the messenger of the Lord’s message and words, and to prepare the way for the Word Himself, Christ, our Saviour, who is also the Word of God.

Being chosen by the Lord, St. John the Baptist did not shy away in fear, but instead fully embraced the tasks that had been entrusted on him, and passionately went into his ministry, preaching to the people of God and repeatedly asking them to repent and return to the Lord who loves them. He worked tirelessly throughout his ministry in this world, and he did not show any fear even to the corrupt authority, the way he chastised King Herod for his improper relationship with the brother of his wife, Herodias.

He did not fear death while doing so, and faced death willingly when he was beheaded by the order of King Herod. In his humility he told his own disciples to follow Christ, and proclaimed to them the Messiah, with his words, “Behold the Lamb of God!”, and many who followed John then followed Christ in turn. He did not seek human glory and praise, and in his humility, told his disciples that while Christ increase, he must decrease.

He recognised his own human weakness and accepted the will of God without hesitation. He followed the Lord and obeyed His will. St. John the Baptist is indeed an example for all of us, how to be the true disciples of the Lord. When we are called by the Lord to be His servants, we must not give in to fear and doubt, but place all of our trust in the Lord, just the way that St. John had done, that we can truly give our all in the work for the sake of the Lord, and for the sake of God’s people, that is all mankind.

We should not give in to doubt as Zechariah, John’s father had done. It may be understandable because it may seem impossible for humans that an elderly woman should be able to bear a child. But to God, nothing is impossible. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we who have received the Good News of Christ, let us be renewed by the Holy Spirit of the Lord, and let us be courageous and passionate in spreading the Good News and salvation of the Lord, inspired by the example of St. John the Baptist.

Remember that God chose us and not we chose Him. He called us from the many, to be His disciples, and those of us who had accepted Him as their Lord and Saviour, gained salvation and life eternal. May God remain with us, bless us, and strengthen us in our task, that is to bring the Word of God to many in this world. St. John the Baptist, pray for us too. Amen.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013 : Tuesday of Holy Week (Scripture Reflection)

Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God who became Man, is the servant of God mentioned in the book of the prophet Isaiah in our first reading, as the messenger of God, and the labourer of God, who made Israel, scattered over all nations for their disobedience and sins, whole once again, and return them into the the Lord’s fold.

Yet, as the servant of God had mentioned, that He had laboured in vain, because indeed, many of the people in Israel remained deaf and blind to the works of God through Him. Many still rejected God’s servant, just as they had rejected many prophets that God had sent to them across time, since the beginning of Israel to the coming of Christ, God’s servant.

Christ is also to die, just as the people murdered God’s prophet, and so did Christ had to endure the same suffering and death.

However, Christ put His trust entirely in the Lord, God His Father, for He placed a complete trust in Him, as well as out of His great and undying love for all of us, He remained true and faithful to His mission, despite the weight of such a burden and responsibility, that He even wavered at times, greatly distressed in His Spirit.

This is how we can follow the example of Christ. That is to pray, whenever we are faced with great trouble and persecution. Christ prayed at the Garden of Gethsemane prior to His arrest by the temple guards and Judas’ betrayal, so that He would be strengthened for whatever things that are to come.

The lack of prayer and faith is what made Peter betrayed Jesus, just as Judas Iscariot had betrayed Christ for the thirty silver coins he received from the chief priests for his betrayal. Judas had failed his temptation by Satan and allowed Satan to enter into him, to betray the Lord, because he had let himself to falter in his faith, for in fact, he barely has faith for the Lord at all.

For already it was known that from yesterday’s readings, that he appropriated some of the common purse’s money for his own use. He didn’t follow the Lord out of true faith and dedication to God’s mission, but rather as an opportunist, and being a thief he was, he took advantage of the situation, and even betrayed his Master for the sake of money. When he regretted that, it was already too late for him to repent.

For Peter, and also the other disciples, they did have faith in the Lord, but that faith was yet strong enough to endure harsh moments and persecutions. For when the Lord was arrested, and He was brought to the chief priests for trial, the fear that came before all of them, including Peter, prevented their faith in Christ to come forth in them, and instead they cower behind their fears, and their own self-preservation instincts.

That was why Peter denied Jesus three times, all to protect himself, from facing the same fate as that of Christ. He denied Him three times despite having pledged his life to defend Christ just hours before that denial. But Christ saw the true faith that was in Peter, only that it was being shrouded in fear. Once that shroud of fear was removed, the true faith could shine brightly for all to see. That was why Christ forgave Peter through His three questions of love to Peter, and then commended to Him the people of God, to be his as the shepherd, representing Himself as the Chief Shepherd.

Therefore brothers and sisters in Christ, as we approach the Easter Triduum beginning this Thursday, let us pray, that our faith will be strengthened. That we will never again be afraid or be ashamed to stand up for Christ and for the teachings of God and His values. Let us strive to help one another, to strengthen one another in faith, and to bring all God’s people together in love. May God bless our Holy Week celebration, that we will have a fruitful and blessed time. Amen!