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.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius Loyola, Priest (First Reading)

Exodus 34 : 29-35

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with two slabs of the Statement in his hands, he was not aware that the skin of his face was radiant after speaking with YHVH. Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw that Moses’ face was radiant and they were afraid to go near him.

But Moses called them, and Aaron with all the leaders of the community drew near, and Moses spoke to them. Afterwards, all the Israelites came near and he told them all that YHVH had commanded him on Mount Sinai. When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.

Whenever Moses went before YHVH to speak with Him, He took of the veil until he came out again. And when he came out and told them what he had been commanded, the Israelites saw that his face was radiant. Moses would then replace the veil over his face until he went again to speak with YHVH.

Friday, 5 July 2013 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Zaccaria, Priest (First Reading)

Genesis 23 : 1-4, 19 and Genesis 24 : 1-8, 62-67

Sarah lived a hundred and twenty-seven years. She died at Kiriatharba – that is Hebron – in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to weep and mourn for Sarah. Abraham left his dead one and spoke to the Hittites, “I am only a stranger among you; give me a burial place among you, so that I may bury my dead.” After this Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave of Machpelah.

Abraham was now old and well on in years, and YHVH had blessed him in every way. Abraham said to his senior servant, who was his steward, “Put your hand under my thigh and you will swear to me by YHVH, God of heaven and earth, that you will not choose a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom we live; rather it is to my country and my kinsfolk that you will go to choose a wife for my son, Isaac.”

The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman will not want to follow me to this country. In that case should I take your son to the country you came from?” Abraham said to him, “In no way you will take my son back. For YHVH, God of heaven and God of earth, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, spoke to me and swore to me that He would give this country to my race. He will send His angel before you, that you may find a wife for my son. But if the woman is unwilling to follow you, you will be free of this oath. In any case you are not to take my son down there.”

Now Isaac had come from the well of Lahai-roi, for he was living in the Negeb. As Isaac went out in the early evening to meditate in the field, he looked up and saw camels coming. Rebekah also looked up and when she saw Isaac she alighted from her camel and said to the servant, “Who is the man in the field coming to meet us?” He replied, “It is my master!” She then covered her face with her veil.

The servant related to Isaac all that he had done and Isaac brought Rebekah into the tent of Sarah, his mother. He made her his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

Thursday, 13 June 2013 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

2 Corinthians 3 : 15 – 2 Corinthians 4 : 1, 3-6

Up to this very day, whenever they read Moses, the veil remains over their understanding, but, for whoever turns to the Lord, the veil shall be removed. The Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

So, with unveiled faces, we all reflect the Glory of the Lord, while we are transformed into His likeness and experience His Glory more and more by the action of the Lord who is Spirit.

Since this is our ministry mercifully given to us, we do not weaken. In fact if the Gospel we proclaim remains obscure, it is obscure only for those who go to their own destruction. The god of this world has blinded the minds of these unbelievers lest they see the radiance of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is God’s image.

It is not ourselves we preach, but Christ Jesus as Lord; and for Jesus’ sake we are your servants. God who said, “Let the light shine out of darkness”, has also made the light shine in our hearts to radiate and to make known the Glory of God, as it shines in the face of Christ.

Thursday, 30 May 2013 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters, God our Lord and Saviour created everything in this world, in this universe, and He made them perfect. Our world was perfect before it was tainted by sin and evil, which brought in imperfections to the world that was once perfect.

Evil and sin had blinded us from the goodness and the love of God, and they have brought us further and further from God our Father and creator. While today we heard about the miraculous healing of Bartimaeus by Jesus, who healed him of his physical blindness and made him able to see once again, in fact our world today is still blinded, not physically but spiritually.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, many of us if not most are still in darkness, in deep blindness, although we can physically very well and our physical eyes are perfect. It is our hearts, the eyes of our hearts that are blind, blind to the truth that God has brought through Jesus, and blind to His commandments of love, that we should love one another and love God with all our might and our beings.

And just like Bartimaeus, who was so desperate to be healed and by his faith in Jesus, called out loudly for Christ, the Son of David, the Son of God, to come to him and heal him of his afflictions, we too, are like him, in that we call out to the Lord to heal us from our own spiritual blindness, which is even worse than the blindness of the physical eyes.

Our hearts are darkened by sin, and darkened by our cardinal sins, that are most prominently, pride, lust, greed, and sloth. And sadly, because of these, many people do not even realise that they are blind, just like the Pharisees whom the Lord rebuked for being so deeply immersed in their own pride and vanity, that they became blind to the truth of the Lord, and did not keep faithfully what the Lord has commanded and entrusted them to do.

Therefore, it is very often, that many of us, did not realise that we are blind, and in our pride, we refuse to acknowledge our blindness, our afflictions and weaknesses, and ask the Lord, like Bartimaeus had done, to plead for His mercy and compassion, that He would heal us from our spiritual blindness, and allow us to be whole once again, no longer blind, physically and spiritually.

The Lord is willing to heal us, and save us from our afflictions. Because if we remain in our blindness and in this darkness, we will eventually be damned with the evil one, to the lake of fire that awaits us if we remain blind, blind to the love of God, and blind to the plight of the many people around us, who long for our help.

And the Lord did such a great thing that He sent His only Son, to die for all of us, so that in His death, He redeemed us from our sins, and offered freely that salvation which are given to all mankind, but if they do not accept this salvation, they will remain blind. All that we need is, to humbly ask our Lord Jesus, to save us, and to accept Him as our Saviour through baptism and therefore, through the Church.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, from today onwards, we have to ponder on this matter, and strive to open ourselves to the love of God, and allow Him to transform us with His love, and open the blinded eyes of our hearts, that we can then truly see, both the love that is God, and the love that is within us, which if we use this gift of love that has been given to us, our world would indeed had been a much better place today.

May the Lord, who cured Bartimaeus from his physical blindness for his faith in Him, also cure all of us from our spiritual blindness, that we can truly and perfectly see once again, all the creations of the Lord that is good, and to be able to embrace once again, the fullness of God’s love. Amen.

Monday, 13 May 2013 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima (Gospel Reading)

John 16 : 29-33

The disciples said to Him, “Now You are speaking plainly and not in veiled language! Now we see that You know all things, even before we question You. Because of this we believe that You came from God.”

Jesus answered them, “You say that you believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave Me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with Me.”

“I have told you all this, so that in Me you may have peace. You will have trouble in the world; but courage! I have overcome the world.”

 

Reading from the Mass of Our Lady of Fatima

 

Luke 11 : 27-28

As Jesus was speaking, a woman spoke from the crowd and said to Him, “Blessed is the one who gave You birth and nursed You!”

Jesus replied, “Truly blessed are those who hear the word of God, and keep it as well.”

Tuesday, 7 May 2013 : 6th Week of Easter (Scripture Reflection)

Follow the Lord! For He is justice and truth embodied!

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear the word of God, proclaiming that in Christ our Lord, lays true justice and the truth itself, however hard it is for this evil-laden world to comprehend and accept. Even among us, there are many who still do not believe truly in God, and put our trust in His justice and have faith in the truths He had taught us through His apostles.

For Christ is our great judge, who will judge every being and every mankind at the end of time, when it is time once again for Him to descend onto this world in His glorious Second Coming, when He will vindicate all who keep their faith in Him and do not give it up for the temptations and seductions of the evil one. He will reward all those who remain faithful in Him, and punish all those who stray from His way, the true way, the path of salvation.

This great judgment will separate the good ones from the bad ones, the worthy ones from the unworthy ones, like the harvester separate the good wheat from the chaff and the husks, and like the shepherd separating the goat from the sheep. So will all of us be separated based on our virtues, and whether we have faithfully kept God’s commandments in our deeds and in our daily lives.

Would we want to be separated as the bad goats as compared to be like the good sheep? Would we want to endure the eternal suffering of separation from God and His infinite love? Never forget that the true suffering in hell is not the physical fire and the torture of the flesh that is always depicted in the secular illustrations, but hell is in fact a state of eternal damnation and suffering when one is truly, completely, and forever separated from God.

It is difficult to believe in God, especially in our increasingly secular world today, as God becomes ever more distant in mankind’s hearts, when world’s increasingly seductive temptations exert greater and ever greater pull on many, steering them away from the true faith and from the righteous path in Christ. This is why the world is sinful, and it is most sinful in what is called disbelief. Not only because it has not believed in God, and had rejected the One whom God had sent, but also that it had made many to lose their faith and belief in God, because it has offered the falsehoods that Satan has offered.

Let us not be perturbed, my brethren. Let us not be shaken in our faith, and doubt our God not for even a single moment, for He is constant, and He is faithful. He is God who keeps His promises, who loves those who also love Him, and those who obey the commandments He had set, and those who follow in His way. Remember, the path of Satan, and what the deceiver offers us, may look good, but it offers only temporal satisfaction. Remember Adam and Eve, our ancestors.

True salvation, true joy, and true glory lie only in God, our one and only God and Lord. To no other being should we bend our knee to in worship, other than to He who had come down from heaven, who had lived amongst us, who died for us, that we may live, and who had risen in glory, in triumph, and conquered death. Amen.