Wednesday, 22 January 2014 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

1 Samuel 17 : 32-33, 37, 40-51

David said to Saul, “Let no one be discouraged on account of this Philistine, for your servant will engage him in battle.”

Saul told David, “You cannot fight with this Philistine for you are still young, whereas this man has been a warrior from his youth.”

David continued, “YHVH, who delivered me from the paws of lions and bears, will deliver me from the hands of the Philistine.” Saul then told David, “Go and may YHVH be with you!”

David took his staff, picked up five smooth stones from the brook and dropped them inside his shepherd’s bag. And with his sling in hand, he drew near to the Philistine.

The Philistine moved forward, closing in on David, his shield-bearer in front of him. When he saw that David was only a lad, and he was of fresh complexion and handsome, he despised him and said, “Am I a dog that you should approach me with a stick?”

Cursing David by his gods, he continued, “Come and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field!”

David answered the Philistine, “You have come against me with sword, spear and javelin, but I come against you with YHVH, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied. YHVH will deliver you this day into my hands and I will strike you down and cut off your head.”

“I will give the corpses of the Philistine army today to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, and all the earth shall know that there is a God of Israel. All the people gathered here shall know that YHVH saves not by sword or spear; the battle belongs to YHVH, and He will deliver you into our hands.”

No sooner had the Philistine moved to attack him, than David rushed to the battleground. Putting his hand into his bag, he took out a stone, slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead; it penetrated his forehead and he fell on his face to the ground.

David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, felling him without using a sword. He rushed forward, stood over him, took the Philistine’s sword and slew him by cutting off his head.

When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they scattered in all directions.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Colossians 2 : 6-15

If you have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, let Him be your doctrine. Be rooted and built up in Him; let faith be your principle, as you were taught, and your thanksgiving overflowing. See that no one deceives you with philosophy or any hollow discourse; these are merely human doctrines not inspired by Christ but by the wisdom of this world. For in Him dwells the fullness of God in bodily form. He is the head of all cosmic power and authority, and in Him you have everything.

In Christ Jesus you were given a circumcision but not by human hands, which removed completely from you the carnal body : I refer to baptism. On receiving it you were buried with Christ; and you also rose with Him for having believed in the power of God who raised Him from the dead.

You were dead. You were in sin and uncircumcised at the same time. But God gave you life with Christ. He forgave all our sins. He cancelled the record of our debts, those regulations which accused us. He did away with all that and nailed it to the cross. Victorious through the cross, He stripped the rulers and authorities of their power, humbled them before the eyes of the whole world and dragged them behind Him as prisoners.

Sunday, 18 August 2013 : 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are reminded on the mission that Christ had when He came upon this world. The mission that Christ had in saving this world, is not an easy mission, brethren, because even though He is God, it does not mean that He had an easy time. Yes, He had had much opposition and resistance during His time on earth, and during His ministry to the people of God.

Herod rejected Him, the innkeeper rejected Him and His family. The people rejected Him, and the priests and the Pharisees rejected Him, and together they even had condemned Him to die, to die a humiliating death on the cross. Basically, the path of the Lord is filled with obstacles and dangers, definitely not a walk in the park. That was why Christ said in the Gospel reading, in what some of us may feel a bit disturbed, that He came not to bring peace, but discord.

This discord come about exactly because of the divisions that the Lord, in His person and in His teachings, that divides the people, because some people will follow and obey the Lord, but there will always be some or many who will dissent and disagree with Him. They were those who had rejected Him in the first place. Those who mocked Him, His disciples, and even us, who believe in Him.

Many martyrs of the early Church faced suffering and martyrdom because their families and relatives rose up against them, either betraying them to the authorities or by dealing with the holy martyrs themselves. Discord existed between the people of God and those who still believed in the pagan gods. Even discord and persecution awaited God’s servants, the prophets like Jeremiah.

We tend to sway away from the path of the Lord, because just as the Lord Himself had been rejected, mocked, and treated badly, we too, who follow the Lord will face much opposition and discord in our lives, and in all our dealings. We will be rejected as well, and we will face discord even with our own families and relatives. This discord however, does bring about potential destruction and conflict that involve all of us. It is indeed much easier for us to follow the ways of the world, and give in to the temptations of this world, some of which include money, wealth, sexual pleasure, good life, and many other things.

The world offer us much goods, and much things that are indeed more enjoyable, pleasurable, and easier to be done than to follow the Lord, and that is exactly what caused the discord and friction that will surely exist within our families, within our circle of friends, and within our own societies, much like how it was during the early Church. In the early Church, being the followers of Christ means to be detached from the larger general population, and for those in the positions of privilege and power, following the Lord, or in short becoming Christian was a serious risk to them, both for their position and for their own lives.

Temptations are many, brethren, and even more so in this world of ours today. In this world, many things easily bring us astray from the true path towards the Lord. Money, wealth, world pleasures, and even good food can corrupt us and our hearts, subverting us from the purpose given to us. That is why, brethren, our churches are empty! Our seminaries are empty! Our new priests are getting fewer and older! All because of the challenges presented to us and the Church, especially important in this ever-changing times.

Yes, brethren, the need is greater than ever for us to support one another and pray for one another, that we remain faithful and dedicated to their faith in God. This is that we will not fall to the traps of the evil one, and therefore falter in our path towards salvation. We have to be strong and stand up against the temptations of evil and the pleasures of the flesh, and rebuke the devil and all that he offers us. But worry not, brothers and sisters, for our Lord is with us, and He will guide us and protect us, as long as we remain faithful and loving to Him.

God walks with us and remains with us if we are faithful to Him. He will not abandon us, just as He never abandoned Jeremiah in the sewers, and He lifted him up through king Zedekiah and his servants. The same happened to the disciples of Christ, the apostles, like St. Peter who was imprisoned by King Herod and intended to be executed, because of his faith in Christ, and was to be made an example to the other Christians. However, God rescued him through His angel, and He liberated him from his shackles in order to do many more good things for the sake of God, and God’s beloved people.

In our world today, there will be many challenges and persecutions, in many different forms, and do not be surprised that the devil may attack where we least expect, that is from within, from within ourselves, within our own families, within our own friend circles, and within our own societies. Indeed brethren, the one who caused divisions and discords among us is in fact not the Lord, but ultimately is the devil who sowed in us the seeds of his discord, his rebellion, and his disobedience against the will of God. Sin and our human weaknesses are the channels through which Satan nurture in us these seeds of evil. It is up to us whether we let divisions and discord rule over us, or that we give ourselves fully to the Lord and immerse ourselves in His love, that all of us may be reunited in harmony, as the one people of God, all of whom obey the Lord our God with all our hearts and with all our beings.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, reminding ourselves of the words of the readings today, of the teachings of the Lord revealed through Christ our Lord, let us resolve to continue our total love and devotion towards He who had come into this world to save it. He who has punished the enemies of the Lord and the enemies of those who believe in Him. He who had taken those He had chosen from this world, and protect them, that despite the oppositions of this world against them, they remain triumphant because of the power and glory of God given them through Christ, who had marked them as His own.

May the Risen Christ who is triumphant against evil, bless us and strengthen us with His love, that we will persevere in our worldly struggle and indeed, daily struggle against sin and against the forces of evil arrayed against us. May the holy saints and martyrs of God who had gone before us, intercede for our sake and pray for us sinners still living in this world. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 15 August 2013 : Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are celebrating a great feast of our faith, that is the Assumption of our Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, who bore Christ into this world, her Assumption into heaven. What is this Assumption and why is it so special and so important to us? What is the significance of this event in our faith and in our Church?

The feast of the Assumption of Mary celebrates an important part of our faith that is the assumption of Mary at the end of her earthly life into heaven. This is not the same as our death and resurrection, brothers and sisters, because Mary did not die, nor did death had any sort of power over her. Instead, our Blessed Virgin and Mother of God was taken up in both body and spirit into heaven by the power of God Himself. Nothing truly is impossible for God, even with this kind of feat.

Our brethren in the Eastern Rites of the Church celebrate a similar but slightly different celebration called the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, in which, they believe that Mary was brought to sleep and then taken into heaven, not unlike our doctrine on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. All are centred on the fate of Mary, the mother of God, after the death, resurrection, and Ascension of her Son, Jesus into His glorious throne in heaven.

The great and saintly Pope Pius XII, whom will soon be declared saint when his canonisation process is complete in the near future, declared the Dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven 63 years ago, on 1 November of the year 1950 in his Apostolic Constitution ‘Munificentissimus Deus’ declaring definitively and conclusively through an infallible ‘ex cathedra’ proclamation, and in conjuction with the well-established belief and tradition of the faith that Mary did not suffer any form of physical death at the end of her life in this world, but instead was taken bodily into heaven.

Why was Mary taken up into heaven? Like Enoch of old, one of the direct descendants of Adam and an ancestor of Noah, she was taken up from us in this world into heaven to be with God. Enoch, unlike the other sons and daughters of mankind at the time, was a righteous and just person, a man of integrity, and a man of God, devoted and dedicated to the Lord his Master and Creator. It is because of his righteousness and his goodness, God did not want to allow him to be claimed by death and suffering, but He lifted him up into heaven, to be with Him for eternity.

Similarly, this had happened to Mary, the mother of our God. And even greater than Enoch because Mary was indeed special, in another essential part of our faith, we believe that Mary was indeed born into this world and indeed was conceived without the taint of sin, original sin or whatsoever. This she had revealed herself to St. Bernadette Soubirous, at the site now famously known as Lourdes, in a series of vision and appearances more than 150 years ago.

Our Lord’s mother was conceived into this world without sin, or the Immaculate Conception of Mary was because ever before she was conceived, she had been chosen as the vessel through which, the Salvation of our world is to come from. Yes, she was the one to bear the very Son of the Most High God, who came down to be one of us, that through Him, the whole of mankind may be saved from death, that is not just the physical death, but the eternal death caused by the separation from God in hell.

And because Mary had been chosen to be the mother of our Lord and God who is perfect and without sin Himself, it is fitting that she herself has no sin or taint on her own, and that brought about her Immaculate Conception, that she was indeed, through her life, pure as snow and blameless, as a lamb without defect, the same as her Son, Jesus.

In the same way then, at the end of her life, Mary did not suffer death and was directly brought to heaven in the same way Enoch her ancestor was taken up by God. Mary did not suffer death because just as her Son Jesus had conquered death and be triumphant over all evils and hell through His most glorious resurrection from the dead after His crucifixion, thus, it is not fitting for His own mother to be claimed by the power of death. Yes, because death is in fact a punishment to us, brothers and sisters in Christ, because we have rebelled and sinned against the Lord our God Almighty.

Ever since our first forefathers sinned against God by their disobedience, they have been cast out from the perfection of the Lord. Death was not originally intended for them, and never would death had claimed them, because they would have remained with God in eternal happiness had it not been for their sin and disobedience. Suffering and death is then the punishment that mankind had to suffer for the sins they have committed.

Through Mary, the deliverance of our world was brought at hand, the deliverance brought through Jesus, the shepherd and not any shepherd, but the Good Shepherd, who will lead the people of God, as the King of all the nations, and King of all kings. The vision of St. John the Baptist in the Book of Revelation on the lady crowned by stars bearing the baby indeed reflect what had happend through Mary and her Son, Jesus our Lord and Saviour. Mary is exalted above all else save God Himself, because of her role in the plan of salvation, and her many good deeds and total obedience to the will of God.

The lady labouring with child in pain, in fact also represent all of us, all mankind ever since the time of Adam until the last man, who labour in difficulty and suffering, longing to be freed from the seemingly inevitable and unescapeable fate of death and damnation in hell for our sins and disobedience. The great red dragon, who is Satan, the enemy of all that is good, threatens to destroy us, and drag us with him into eternal damnation in hell, just as he had converted even many of the heavenly angels to his cause, represented by the one third of the stars of the sky taken by the dragon.

Yet, as we know that the deliverance had come, through the Son of God made man, Jesus Christ. Yes, He is the Son destined to rule the nations, and the One taken up to heaven, to the throne of God. Yes, exactly as what had happened, that after His death and resurrection, Jesus was taken up into heaven by His own power in His glorious Ascension. He will then come again in glory, to judge all the nations and deliver the righteous ones to Him, and cast the wicked ones forever away from His presence. He is our hope, our only hope, born through the Virgin Mary, whose Assumption we celebrate today.

Why then we celebrate this Assumption? That is because, our Blessed Virgin Mary is truly an example to all of us, the role model we ought to follow, through her upright life, filled with love, devotion, and full obedience to the will of God. She is the greatest help and intercessor to us, indeed, the greatest of all saints and angels in heaven, the one nearest to the throne of God. That is why we revere her as the Queen of all saints and of angels. Her Assumption into heaven reminds all of us of this fact, as well as the fact that through Jesus, her Son, we have all been saved, saved from death and eternal damnation in hell.

Jesus gave Mary to John, His disciple, before He died on the cross, and He also gave him to her, to care for one another. At that moment, the Lord gave both Mary to all of us, represented by John, and then all of us, He also entrusted to Mary, His mother, just as He entrusted John to her care. Yes, in Mary we have our greatest defender, and our greatest help in achieving the salvation offered by our Lord Jesus Christ, indeed, the best way to Christ is through Mary, that is by following her examples, be obedient and loving as she had been, and asking her for her intercession for our sake before her Son, Jesus.

That is why, brothers and sisters, let us strengthen our love and devotion to the Lord, by strengthening our own devotion to Mary, His mother, who was lifted up to heaven in glory at the end of her life and now defend us before Satan our accuser. Let us together with our mother, Mary, rebuke Satan and reject his evil advances and temptations, and put his head under our feet and crush it, just as Mary, through her Son, had crushed the head of the evil snake, as foretold by God Himself to Eve.\

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus, in her glorious Assumption into heaven, continue to pray for us, and intercede for us with all the saints and angels of heaven before the throne of her Son Jesus, that He, the King of all Kings and the victorious and conquering king, will come to smite the devil, the dragon, and bring us all to Him, and bless us with eternal grace and eternal life in heaven. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

(Vigil) Wednesday, 14 August 2013 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 15 : 54b-57

When our mortal being puts on immortality, the word of Scripture will be fulfilled : Death has been swallowed up by victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting? Sin is the sting of death to kill, and the Law is what gives force to sin. But give thanks to God who gives us the victory through Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Sunday, 11 August 2013 : 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, we are urged through the readings we listened to, that we must be ever ready, ever ready for the coming of Christ our Lord, who will come at the end of time, to judge all things living and dead, in the final judgment, when those who are upright and do the will of God, will be rewarded, and those who are wicked, will meet their due punishment.

Our Lord Jesus who has ascended into heaven at the end of His ministry on earth, will come again at the end of time, as a victorious and conquering King of all Kings, and He will judge all creation, all mankind, for our virtues, our goodness, our faults, and our sins. He had promised us through His disciples, that He will come again and bring us back into His kingdom, to be with Him for eternity, in eternal happiness and true joy.

Yes, as He had promised Abraham and his descendants, He had also promised all of us, who shared Abraham as our father in faith, that He will give His grace and blessings upon all of us. To us had been granted much, and therefore much is also expected from us. That is because, the Lord had made His covenant with all of us, to renew the covenant He had made with Abraham, through the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus on the cross, with which He made a new covenant sealed with His Most Precious Blood.

Our Lord remains ever faithful, ever loving, and ever forgiving in His dealings with all of us, who are His most beloved children. He had sent His Son Jesus to be our Saviour, to break us free from the chains of sin and its slavery. He had redeemed us from Satan with the price of His own Blood. But a covenant requires all of us to also play our part, that is to contribute to the covenant we had made with God through Christ His Son.

How do we then take part in this holy covenant of God? It is not easy, brothers and sisters, because He requires our ultimate obedience and dedication to Him and His laws, His precepts, and all of His love. To put it in simple words, we need to obey the Lord and follow Christ, through whom God had made clear to us His intentions, the plan He had for us and this world. In following Christ, we have to carry our crosses and walk with Him, enduring much opposition, suffering, and persecution, especially from the forces of evil, who do not wish to see us redeemed and steered away from destruction.

To follow Christ means to love one another, to love everyone around us, our brothers and sisters, without exception, and to pour onto them our care and compassion, giving to them our unconditional love, as Christ had once done to us, through His death on the cross. And of course, we must also love the Lord our God, with all our hearts and with all of our strength, that we offer Him our full devotion, our full attention, and our wholesome love, without exception, to put Him first before every other things.

As I had mentioned, much had been given to us, and therefore much is also expected from us in return. God our Lord had entrusted this world and all in it to us when He created our ancestors. He gave us this world that we may be its steward, care for it, and be responsible for it. He had given us gifts and blessings in ourselves, and through the Holy Spirit, we have been strengthened with the fruits of His love. These gifts are within each one of us, our talents, our skills, and our uniqueness, which may be used for myriad purposes and different intentions.

We have to cultivate these gifts and nurture them, that the talents and the skills God had given us will grow, and be made manifest in this world, by our service and dedication to our fellow men, our fellow brothers and sisters, children of the same God, giving to them, to one another, the love, the hope, and the faith we have inside of us. If we share our love, faith, and hope, they will only grow and blossom. We have to practice our faith, brothers and sisters in Christ, and our good works for the sake of our brethren, that our faith may be alive.

Yes, the faith we have in God must be a living and vibrant faith, one nurtured with love, one filled with action based on the teachings of our Lord. If we have this living faith within us, like the faith had by our father Abraham, who followed the Lord with zeal and full trust in His providence, we will be rewarded just as our father Abraham was rewarded for his strong and undimmed faith, for his real, living, and vibrant faith.

Do not be caught unawares, brothers and sisters, when Christ comes again in all His glory, in His Second Coming at the end of time. We do not know when this will happen, and indeed, He will come at the time when we are at our most unprepared state, when we did not expect Him to come at all. He will come silently like a thief and He will then judge us, all of us, whether we have been faithful to Him and His commandments or whether we have turned away from Him and His path.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us heed the call that Christ had made to all of us, to follow Him and remain in His love, by showing Him a constant and vibrant faith, and our wholehearted dedication and devotion, our undivided love and attention for Him, and for all His children, our fellow brethren in God. Be prepared at all times for Him, that we will always be ready when He comes again, and not be found wanting for our faith.

Let us from today, dedicate ourselves and renew our commitment to Him, and to our fellow brothers and sisters, helping one another in our journey towards the Lord our God. We hope that everyone will be able to reach the end of our journeys successfully and that the Lord our God will welcome us and congratulate us for our dedication and our faith in Him, granting us the reward He had promised us through Jesus Christ, His Son. Let us not be the ones rejected by the Lord, because they did not bother to lift a finger, to help those in need, and to give themselves in love to their brethren in need. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 11 August 2013 : 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Wisdom 18 : 6-9

That night had been foretold to our ancestors, and knowing in what promise they trusted, they could rejoice in all surety.

Your people waited for both the salvation of the just and the downfall of their enemies, for the very punishment of our enemies brought glory to the people You have called – that is, to us.

The holy race secretly offered the Passover sacrifice and really agreed on this worthy pact : that they would share alike both blessings and dangers. And forthwith they began to sing the hymns of their fathers.