(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 26 March 2016 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Sixth Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Baruch 3 : 9-15, 32 – Baruch 4 : 4

Listen, Israel, to the commands of life, give ear so as to learn prudence. Why, Israel! Why are you in the land of your foes? Why are you growing old in a foreign country, contaminated by pagans, counted among those who go to the pit?

You have abandoned the source of Wisdom. If you had walked in the way of God, peace would be your dwelling place forever. Learn where is Wisdom, where is Strength and Understanding, that you may know, at the same time, where are length of days and life, light of the eyes and Peace.

Who will find Wisdom’s dwelling? Who will enter her storage rooms? But He who knows everything recognises her. He has found her in His own intellect. He who created the earth, for all time, and has filled it with four-footed beings.

He who sends the light, and it goes, who recalls it, and trembling it obeys. The stars shine, full of joy, to keep their night watches. He calls them and they answer, “Here we are.” They shine with joy for their Creator.

It is He who is our God, no other can be compared with Him. He has found the way of understanding and has given her to Jacob His servant and to Israel His well-beloved.

Then Wisdom was seen on earth and lived among humans. She herself is the book of the commands of God, the law which endures forever. All who hold fast to her will have life, but those who abandon her will die.

Come back, Jacob, and embrace her, walk towards brightness under her light. Do not give up what is your glory or sell your privileges to any strange nation. We are fortunate, o Israel, for we know what pleases the Lord!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 118 : 1, 27, 30, 34, 35, 44

Blessed are they whose ways are upright, who follow the law of the Lord.

Explain to me all Your ordinances, and I will meditate on Your wondrous deeds.

I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart upon Your laws.

Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law with all my heart.

Guide me in obeying Your instructions, for my pleasure lies in them.

May I always keep Your word forever and ever.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 2 : 10b-16

Because the Spirit probes everything, even the depth of God. Who but his own spirit knows the secrets of a person? Similarly, no one but the Spirit of God knows the secrets of God. We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God and, through Him, we understand what God in His goodness has given us.

So we speak of this, not in terms inspired by human wisdom, but in a language taught by the Spirit, explaining a spiritual wisdom to spiritual persons. The one who remains on the psychological level does not understand the things of the Spirit. They are foolishness for him and he does not understand because they require a spiritual experience.

On the other hand, the spiritual person judges everything but no one judges him. Who has known the mind of God so as to teach him? But we have the mind of Christ.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 11 : 25-30

On that occasion Jesus said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I praise You, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to simple people. Yes, Father, this is what pleased You.”

“Everything has been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

“Come to Me, all you who work hard and who carry heavy burdens, and I will refresh you. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest. For My yoke is good, and My burden is light.”

Message to the Faithful and Reflection on the Occasion of the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday

Liturgical Colour : Red

Brothers and sisters in Christ! Today I wish you all Happy Pentecost and indeed happy birthday to us all as the members of His One Church, the One Body of Christ. Today is indeed the birthday of the Church, as the Pentecost day when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles marked the very beginning of the Apostolic ministry of the Church as we know it.

The Pentecost day from its name signify a period of fifty days since the celebration of the Passover, that is the Jewish Passover. Why do we call this solemnity, the solemnity of the Pentecost? That is because the Jews also celebrate Pentecost, but for a different purpose. After the people of Israel had been brought out of Egypt, they travelled for days through the desert, from the Red Sea to the Mount Horeb, or the Mountain of God.

There the people encamped on the plain, while Moses ascended up the mountain to meet the Lord and receive something that was truly very important. The Pentecost celebration by the Jewish people celebrated that moment when the Lord gave His gift, the Law which He revealed to Moses, to the people of Israel, as a guide on how they should live their lives worthily of the Lord. The Pentecost for the Jewish people therefore originally meant the reception of the Law as the means of enlightenment, that the people who was once lawless and without guide, now has the Law to guide them.

As we witnessed in the Scripture reading, the reading on the Tower of Babel, which many of us are quite familiar with, shows how mankind after creation had grown proud on earth with their accomplishments, and tried to challenge God by building the tower that reaches to the heavens. As a result, God punished mankind who had grown proud by confusing their languages and customs, that they become separated into many peoples and many languages. Hence the people of God became leaderless and without guidance.

But God did not intend to let this go on forever. So first through Moses He gave the people the Law, as the first guide for them to seek Him. But it is not perfect, for although the Law itself in its entirety is perfect, but mankind whose wisdom has been brought to disarray by God has different mindsets and ways of thinking. That is why we often disagree on many matters big and small, and we often have different opinions on things and other occurrences. The same therefore happened to how the people of God interpret the Law.

Some took a laidback and leisurely attitude to the Law, while others took the Law very seriously and even to the point of being very detailed and thorough in their observation of the Law. There were widely differing views and interpretations, which ended up in the corruption of the true meaning of the Law. The observation of the Law over time became ritualistic and formal observations, and the elders of the people over time interpret the Law in ever more varying ways so as to create extensive new rules and regulations that the people have to obey, an astounding six hundred and thirteen rules in all for the people to observe.

Hence, that is why the people grew ever more distant from the Lord, and they grew ever more wayward, particularly that of the leaders and the priestly class. These people grew to enjoy the power that they possess as judges of the people, and abused their power in many occasions. Over time, this grew worse, and these leaders ended up leading the people of God further from salvation, as they committed wicked things and sins before the eyes of God.

The Lord promised the coming of the Messiah, who would liberate the people of God and brought them to a new light and understanding about God. And He had well-prepared the people long before the coming of this Messiah, who came in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, and also the Son of God. He is the Word of God made flesh, and by entering into the material body of mankind, He entered our world in order to redeem it.

The Son, Jesus Christ was with God, and is now with God, and He is equal with the Father, and together with the Holy Spirit, He is One. Yes, there is only One God, omnipotent and unsurpassed in all things, but at the same time, the Oneness of the Lord consists also of three distinct and equal Divine Persons, in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each of them are equal to each other, but they are not the same to each other. Yet, they are perfectly bound in love, forming what we know as the Most Holy Trinity.

And this was the truth which the Messiah and Son brought into the world, together with the proclamation of God’s love and saving works, which He intended to fulfill through the works of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. He taught the people of God by the means of parables and stories, as well as explanations, which He made even clearer to His disciples, the Apostles. But they had not been able to understand it yet before the coming of the Holy Spirit, for the understanding is in them, but their confused mind still blocked them from truly understanding the completeness of truth in Christ.

This is where the Pentecost came in, the Christian Pentecost, that is the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples, the beginning of the Church of God on earth. Just as the first Pentecost involves the revelation of God through the Law, the second and greatest Pentecost involves the revelation of God in its completeness and fullness through the Holy Spirit Himself that descended directly to the people of God through the Apostles.

Jesus had promised the disciples often, that He would send them the Helper, or the Advocate, which in fact is the Holy Spirit. And He fulfilled that promise on the Pentecost. The Holy Spirit descended like a fire on each of the disciples, who went on to preach from then on, without fear and full of courage, the truth about Christ and the Good News of His salvation, passing down the Holy Spirit to all those who are faithful to God.

The Holy Spirit filled the hearts of the disciples and their minds, inflaming in themselves the fire of wisdom, understanding and love. The Holy Spirit is the great Teacher promised by Jesus, that He would teach mankind the complete truth about the Law and the Love which God has for mankind, and through Him would come the entirety of the revelation of His plans for us, that is for our salvation.

The Most Holy Trinity is working in tandem in order to make sure that everything goes on smoothly. God the Father is the source of all things, of all knowledge, wisdom and power, and the Son, Jesus, is the channel, through which the Father made manifest all of His love for mankind, which culminated in His death on the cross, the ultimate proof of love by God for men. And lastly, the Holy Spirit is the energy, the power that makes everything possible, through which the grace of God enters mankind, and that was exactly what happened at the Pentecost.

We can see clearly the difference between what happened before the Pentecost and after that. Before the Pentecost, the disciples were often doubtful and fearful. Even when Jesus was still with them, they often had doubts and fears while following Him. When Jesus was arrested by the chief priests, the disciples were scattered, like sheep whose shepherd had been struck down. Even Peter denied the Lord three times in order to preserve his own safety, because he was uncertain, afraid and doubtful.

But after the Holy Spirit had descended on the disciples on Pentecost, there was a drastic and total change in attitude and outlook in them, that the once fearful disciples became courageous and fearless in proclaiming their faith openly. From the meetings that were carried under locked doors into the public preaching on the streets and in the Temple, and persevering even against the harsh persecution by the chief priests and the Pharisees. That is the power of the Holy Spirit.

However, all of this would not have been possible if they had not opened themselves and commit themselves to do the will of the Holy Spirit. We too, brothers and sisters, have received the Holy Spirit through the Sacrament of Confirmation, when the Spirit granted to us in Baptism is strengthened with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit like that of the Pentecost day when the flames of the Holy Spirit descended unto the disciples of Christ.

But we cannot be idle, for if we remain idle, then we will never bear any fruits of the Holy Spirit. There are seven fruits of the Holy Spirit, all of which bear the testimony of God’s love and blessing on us, and they need to be cultivated in us, if we are to bear these fruits. The Apostles and the disciples of Christ opened themselves completely to the Spirit and were committed to do the works of the Holy Spirit, and therefore they bore many fruits in their lives and received rich rewards in the end.

In the parable of the fig tree, Jesus said that a tree that bears no fruit or bad fruit is useless, and ought to be thrown into the fire and perish. That will be the same for us, if we fail to make use of the Holy Spirit which had been passed down to us through the Sacrament of the Church from the Apostles. We have to bear fruits, the fruits of the Holy Spirit, if we are to receive rich rewards from the Lord, otherwise, we will be cast out from His presence and unworthy of Him.

Let us all therefore, in this Pentecost day celebration, renew our commitment to the Lord, and recall the day when we received the Holy Spirit unto ourselves. Let the Holy Spirit make great works within us, that we may bring the love of God to all the peoples of all nations, and bring many souls closer to God, that they too may receive the Holy Spirit and be saved. God be with us all, and may His Spirit be upon us always. Amen.

Thursday, 29 May 2014 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate a great feast day, one of the greatest tenets of our faith, and an essential part of our belief. This is the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, who by His own great power, ascended back into heaven, His heavenly throne and rightful place after He had completed perfectly all that He had come into this world for.

The disciples and the Apostles themselves saw this and were witnesses to this great and unprecedented event, and therefore from them, that is why today we can know of this event, because they testified for it and kept the truth through the generations in the Church. The Ascension of our Lord is one of the central tenet of our faith, and together with the Resurrection, further affirm the truth about Jesus, that He is not just mere Man, but also God, full of power and might.

Why did Jesus leave His disciples and Apostles then? Why did He not stay behind to help them in their ministry or lead them, so that He could bring more people to God? These must be the questions that are in our minds and hearts, and indeed, many people across different generations and time would have asked the same things about Jesus and His Ascension.

Indeed, the disciples themselves asked the same thing to the Lord, of whether He would restore the kingdom of Israel and brought glory to God’s people, right there and then. This again bring us to another common misconception which the people of God, the Israelites and Jews, had pertaining to the coming of the Messiah and His role in this world.

The Jewish people and those who believe in the strict interpretation of the faith as found in the Torah were not able to open their hearts to accept and receive the Lord Jesus into themselves, because they have for long, kept their ways and obstinate attitudes, in believing what they want to believe with regards to God’s promise and the Messiah, deciding that He had not yet come, with their arguments linked to the prophecies of the prophets of old.

Here exactly comes the danger of knowing without fully understanding it, and this danger befell the chosen people of God, stubbornly thinking that the Messiah that was to come, will come to bring glory to them and restore the kingdom of Israel as in the historical kingdom of Israel, as how it was during the time of David and Solomon, and that the Messiah would regather the scattered people of God.

They argued, those who refused to believe, that Jesus was not the Messiah because He did not restore the kingdom to Israel, nor did He apparently bring the people of Israel together, and worse still, for them, He claimed to be the Son of God, which ended up in their condemnation and betrayal of our Lord in the first place. This is because they did not realise that God worked in ways that are truly beyond their understanding, their human intellect and wisdom.

Those who have eyes, ears and senses would have known that, Jesus is truly the Messiah, who truly revealed that the Messiah Himself is God, and God is the Messiah, by coming down Himself into this world, in order to straighten things out and make everything good and working again. He had been proclaimed by the prophets who predicted about His coming and all the things that He would do, and all these were clearly indicated and written in the Scriptures and yet many continued to refuse to believe in Him.

But that is the truth, that the Lord God who has loved us so dearly, and which evidence of love had been truly numerous throughout the Scriptures, yes, so much that He gave us Himself and His life, that we may be saved. That He died for us on the cross, enduring such grievous torture and wounds for our sake, that we will not need to suffer the consequences of our sins, and by rising from the dead, He led mankind into a new hope, that death does not have the final say on us.

The Lord Jesus may have ascended into heaven into His rightful throne, but this does not mean that God has left us all alone, to fend for ourselves. No, in fact, He still watches over us from time to time. And remember, He promised the disciples the Helper, the Advocate, that is the Holy Spirit, which He sent to the disciples on Pentecost, and became their guide and strength in proclaiming the truth of the Lord, the same truth that we know of today.

We have to pray that the Holy Spirit will come and transform the entire world, that the eyes, minds and hearts of all those who still refuse to accept the truth of Christ be awakened by the Spirit, that their hearts be stirred such that they may eventually accept with full honesty and awareness of their conscience, the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour and their most loving God.

Let us pray therefore, on this great occasion, that mankind may no longer be ignorant of God’s love, and may the Lord who returned to His residence and throne in glory, and who will come back to judge us all at the end of time, find us all to be worthy of Him, that. He may bring us all back into His loving embrace, to enjoy the everlasting bliss and graces that He will grant us forever. May God bless us all, and strengthen our faith always. Amen.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014 : 6th Week of Easter (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear how privileged we are to have known the Lord, who had been revealed to us through the Apostles and the disciples of Christ, and through their successors, who continuously preach the Good News and make it known to us. The Greeks in today’s first reading and their predecessor did not have such a privilege, and for many generations, they had lived in darkness and in ignorance, not knowing the truth and the intention which God has for them.

I have once mentioned about the faith of the Greeks in the Hellenic era and earlier, and those of us who know the Greco-Roman mythology and the ubiquitous reference to their gods even to the modern era will know it quite well. There were many gods and goddesses in the Greco-Roman pantheon, each of whom represented an aspect of nature and the world, which they considered to be living and sentient as divines.

This was why the Hellenic people at the time worshipped those gods and built magnificent statues and temples for them, and also offered sacrifices in various kinds to these gods, and yet they did not truly know them. The same happened essentially everywhere else in the world, with the people worshipping aspects and events of nature as divine, and treated them as gods and goddesses.

But if you ask me, these obeisances and devotions are nothing more than mankind’s insecurities, fears, and desires that came forward and end up manifesting as these observations, these worships, and these gods with their stories and mythologies. The mythology and the story behind the gods are often mankind’s attempts to explain the natural phenomena around them and linking them to divine presence.

But these were crafted out of human understanding, and not because of any divine truth and revelations. And they were false, and they misled mankind to believe in the falsehoods, and who fed all these? The devil did. He is most pleased when mankind was misled by lies and misunderstandings, or the twisting of wisdom.

Mankind desires for the love from a superior being, someone whom they know to be the One, the Lord and God who created them, who cared for them, and who provided for them daily and filled them with His Spirit. But not everyone has an idea, of how to approach the Lord, or know how He is like, and that is why, so many people went wayward and away from the Lord, led by the lies of the devil.

God made Himself manifest first to the people of Israel, to Abraham and his descendants, to whom He revealed some of His truth and love, and which He continued to reveal over time through the prophets and the judges. Through them the people of God received more and more knowledge about God and His infinite love for us. But sadly, the people often did not remain faithful and they disobeyed Him despite knowing the truth.

That was why Jesus came into this world, to be the One, who not only revealed the fullness and perfection of God’s love and truth to mankind, but also to be the One through whose truth, made mankind worthy again of Himself, and by dying and by His resurrection, made the plain truth about Himself visible to all, and rose up from among mankind, His witnesses to proclaim that truth to all peoples, of all nations.

Today we are also urged, to cast away the lies, the veil of lies and darkness that still remain, if any, un our hearts and minds. If the people at the time of St. Paul failed to see God in His truth because their hearts were closed within a veil of darkness crafted by men, within layers of superstitions and false faith in tales and mythologies, then we in this world today suffer from the same thing, that is the darkening of our hearts and minds by the concerns of this world, that is by material possessions, and other forms of the pleasures of the flesh.

Let us all today be courageous and be firm in saying no to Satan, and rejecting all of his lies, so that we may finally pierce through the veil of darkness he has cast around us. May we be truly faithful and be good servants and children of God, and be worthy through our words, actions and deeds, which are always in the mold and following the example of Jesus our Lord and Saviour. God bless us all. Amen.