Wednesday, 7 June 2023 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us listened to the words of the Scriptures, in which we are reminded of God’s providence and love for each and every one of us. All of us are promised a life that is free from the sufferings of this world and all the troubles surrounding us now, which will be ours in due time. The Lord leads us all to this journey towards this new and everlasting life, after our worldly journey comes to an end. We are reminded today that our life in this world is not an end to itself, but is merely a temporary stop towards an eternity to come. Eternal life awaits all of us and no matter how much hardships and sufferings that we will have to endure now, in the end, the Lord will lead us to a new life and existence that is free from all sufferings and hardships, into a life that is full of the grace and love of God, when all of us are risen from the dead with Christ.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Tobit, in which both Tobit and Sara, who were facing great tribulation and hardships back then, were praying fervently to God to help them out of their predicament and hardships. Each one of them were suffering greatly because of the challenges that they faced, with Tobit suffering from his blindness and from the ridicule even from his own wife and friends, after his blindness and attitude made him unliked by those who were around him. Meanwhile, Sara was the daughter of Ragouel that was a friend of Tobit’s. She was beset by a powerful demon named Asmodeus, who has struck at all the seven brothers who were married to her and became her husbands. Thus Sara was ridiculed by her own maidservants that accused her of having murdered all of her past husbands when she had done no such thing.

In distress, both Tobit and Sara prayed to the Lord and sought His help and guidance, and the Lord heard them in their distress and all of their prayers. The Lord sent His Archangel Raphael, one of His chief Angels to guide and help both Tobit and Sara, as He sent him to accompany Tobias, the son of Tobit on his journey. Eventually, through the assistance rendered by the Archangel Raphael and all that God had sent to His faithful servants through His Archangel, both Tobit and Sara were liberated from their misery and troubles. They were given reprieve, and not just that, but even greater blessings from God, much as what we may know of another tragic story in the Scriptures, that of the man of God, Job, who similarly faced hardships and difficulties before he was freed from all those.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord Jesus speaking to a group of Sadducees who challenged the Lord, questioned Him and attempted to test the Lord by using a case study, which was rather similar to what we have heard from the Book of Tobit. The Sadducees were one of the two most influential and powerful groups in the society of the Jewish people at that time in the region, especially at Judea and in Jerusalem. Those Sadducees consisted of those whose beliefs were diametrically opposite of the conservative and hardline religious members of the Pharisees. As opposed to the deeply spiritual and Law-observant Pharisees, the Sadducees were those who rejected any spiritual aspects of the Jewish society. They did not believe in the resurrection, or the Angels or any other spiritual matters.

Thus, they were mostly a worldly people with lots of influence and wealth, through which they exercised their power and influence. They asked the Lord regarding how resurrection was possible if in the case study they presented, seven brothers who shared a wife eventually died, and when the woman herself died, whose wife she would be, as they thought in the ways of the people of this world. The Lord thus refuted their thoughts and way of beliefs, by saying that whatever the world to come is to be like, it will be different from our way of life in this world, which is often materialistic and even to the point of being hedonistic and selfish, filled with greed and worldly desires. There is indeed a life beyond death, life that is fully satisfied by the fullness of grace from God.

The Lord Jesus reminded us all that if we seek satisfaction from this world, we will soon be easily disappointed by the hardships, challenges, rejection, ridicule and all the obstacles we may encounter on the way. Like what Tobit and Sara had experienced during their most difficult moments, without the guidance and strength in God, and without the hope of the life that is to come in the Lord, we will easily give in to despair. But God is always with us, by our side, guiding us and strengthening us throughout our journey, and as He has often demonstrated, even in our own lives, we should continue to entrust ourselves to Him and to walk ever more faithfully in His path, living our lives well and righteously so that we will always be good role models and inspirations for one another.

We should not be easily swayed and tempted by the many worldly temptations all around us, or by any desires for worldly matters and corruptions, all the pursuits of worldly glory, pleasures, ambitions and more among all those that we encounter in this world. And if we do encounter hardships in life, we must always remember that God is there by our side, supporting and guiding us all in each and every moments without fail. We may have to endure sufferings and hardships, but we must remember that God has suffered the ultimate suffering, rejection, ridicule and persecution for our sake, and He has endured what we are enduring as well. All of us are always in God’s good hands, and we ought to remember this fact.

May the Lord continue to strengthen and encourage us by His love, His grace and ever present guidance in our daily lives, so that we may always walk ever more graciously and with faith in the path that He has presented to us. Let us all continue to be upright and commit ourselves each day with ever more dedication and obedience to Him, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 6 June 2023 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures we are all reminded of the sufferings which we may have to face for having remained faithful to the Lord, all the trials and hardships that may be ours if we walk down this path that God has shown us. However, we must not lose faith because God has always been by our side, guiding us and being with us even in our most difficult moments. We are also reminded that in our lives in this world, we may often encounter moments when we are required to make compromises and to do as the world requires of us, as after all, we are still living in this world and are parts of how this world operates and works. We cannot totally and completely separate ourselves from the world, and as Christians, we are all expected to live our lives worthily in this world so as to proclaim by our lives and actions, the truth and glory of God, His Good News and all.

In our first reading today, from the Book of Tobit we heard of the account of how Tobit faced a very unfortunate circumstance of having to endure blindness, of not being able to see anything at all. Yet, despite all that he had to go through, Tobit did not lose heart and remained firmly steadfast in his righteousness and conviction to live honestly, and that caused some friction between him and those who were around him, his brothers and his own wife. Tobit was really suffering, much as another character from the Old Testament had also suffered, namely that of Job. Both Tobit and Job encountered unfortunate incidents that affected even their own flesh and health, with Tobit losing his eyesight while Job had to endure from itchy and painful boils, each of these having negative and debilitating effect on their health and also relationship with others around them.

Nonetheless they both remained righteous, upright and dedicated to God in all things, and they did not let fear or uncertainties to affect or distract them from their faith and trust in the Lord. Indeed, naturally they did waver from time to time, lamenting their conditions and the hardships that they had to face, but they never blamed God for their condition. Instead, they actually blamed themselves for their misfortunes and sufferings, and they convinced others that the Lord alone is the Master and the One Who rule over all things, and He alone is the One Who allows all things to happen, and all of us as His beloved people, as His servants have to follow the Lord and obey Him in all of His Law and commandments, and we must walk in the path that He has shown us. Then, as mentioned, we must also be good and upright in our lives in this world as well, in obeying whatever orders and laws that the worldly authorities around us have for us, as long as they do not directly contradict the Law of God.

In our Gospel passage today, that is what the Lord Jesus mentioned to His disciples and followers, and to those who went to Him to question and test Him, namely the Pharisees and the representatives of the chief priests, as they all tried to test and question Him on the matter of paying taxes to the Roman state and to the Emperor as was required of all those who came under the dominion of the Roman Empire. It was a really difficult situation for the Lord because no matter whether He answered yes or no to the question, He would have faced problem either way. The chief priests and the Pharisees would have wanted to trap the Lord by doing so, as if He answered yes to the question, then they could all accuse and discredit the Lord before the Jewish people, quite a few of whom back then harboured hatred against the Romans and refused to obey the laws and taxes imposed on them.

On the other hand, if the Lord had answered no to the question, then the chief priests and the Pharisees, some of whom had close ties to the Romans, could have then accused Him of disobedience and for trying to incite rebellion against the Roman rule. This was what they would later on accuse of the Lord of doing when they brought Him at the moment of His Passion to the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, of the Lord Jesus claiming Himself to be the King of the Jews. Hence, either way, whether the Lord responded with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ to the question, it would have led to serious repercussions to the Lord and to His followers. But the Lord did not do that, and instead, He said that one ought to give to Caesar what belonged to Caesar, as the taxes were paid with the Roman coins that ultimately came from the Roman state itself, and one ought to give to God what belongs to God, that is ultimately, ourselves.

Through what the Lord had told His disciples and those who questioned and tested Him, the Lord wanted to highlight that we should live our lives well and obey whatever the law that the land and our states have, so long as they do not contradict the Divine Law and commandments. At the same time, we should also do our part in fulfilling the Law and commandments of the Lord as is expected of us. We should our lives in a righteous and worthy manner as Tobit and other faithful servants of the Lord, our holy predecessors had done. Are we all able to commit ourselves in such a way, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to devote ourselves ever more to the cause of the Lord? These are the things that we should ask ourselves as we continue living up to our Christian calling and mission in life. And we should also look upon the great examples set by our holy predecessors.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Norbert, also known as St. Norbert of Xanten, a German bishop and founder of the religious order known as the Premonstratensian Order of Canons Regular. He was a priest and preacher who was particularly concerned about the lax nature of discipline amongst the priests and the immorality, worldly vices and wickedness that had grown rampant at that time within the Church, among both the clergy and the laity alike. Through his efforts and works, the Premonstre Order of Canons Regular was established, with customs, rules and practices combining aspects of several other more established religious orders, inspiring many people from all origins to come and join his religious order, which soon grew quickly in various places and in different countries.

He was also appointed as the Archbishop of Magdeburg by the Pope, in which role he instituted wide-ranging reforms in his local diocese, in uprooting the many corrupt practices of the Church and the community at that time. Not everyone approved and supported St. Norbert’s actions, and he faced not a few assassination attempts by those who disagreed with him and his reform works and efforts. Yet, all of those did not discourage St. Norbert who continued to carry out his reforms and works, a spirit and commitment that remain inspirational to countless generations of Christians right up to this day. St. Norbert never wavered in his hard work and efforts to lead more and more souls ever closer towards the Lord, and to help many to become more disciplined in how they lived their lives and in how they carried out their Christian actions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today let us all therefore reflect on the words of the Scriptures that we have received and the actions and life of St. Norbert that we have just discussed. Let us all always remember to live our lives worthily of the Lord as we should, and learn to discipline ourselves and keep ourselves aligned to the Lord and to His path at all times. Let us all follow the footsteps of the faithful servants of God and be good examples and role models of faith ourselves, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 5 June 2023 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are reminded that as Christians, each and every one of us are to remain committed to the Lord, righteous and just, worthy in how we live our lives and in how we carry out our actions so that we may indeed live our lives in the manner that the Lord has always expected us all to live them, to be good role models and inspirations for one another in all things. The Lord has shown us through His servants and by His own examples what they and He Himself had done in glorifying God, contrasting these with those who had disobeyed the Lord for their own selfish desires and those who have given in to the worldly temptations, those who have wickedly carried out their lives and actions, refusing to listen to the Lord and those who have lived selfishly as the Lord highlighted in today’s Gospel passage.

In our first reading today from the Book of Tobit we heard the story of Tobit, an Israelite exile hailing from the tribe of Naphtali, which dwelled in the northern kingdom of Israel after it was separated from Judah under the House of David. Tobit and many others in the northern kingdom were carried off from their homeland by force through the conquest done by the Assyrians who have conquered their homeland and kingdom, destroyed their cities and towns, and then brought them away from their ancestral lands while bringing many other people from all parts of their Empire to dwell on those lands. Tobit and his family was therefore brought to the region of Assyria itself, around Nineveh, where they dwelled, and as we heard in our first reading today, life went on initially as rather normal for them, with Tobit continuing to carry out his life, supporting fellow Israelites in exile in their lives after they had left their homeland.

It was there and then that Tobit faced the harsh reality of the situation when he heard from his son Tobias that one of his fellow Israelites had been strangled and killed, which disturbed Tobit greatly. Tobit went on to bury the man and became distressed, having been a truly righteous and selfless man who had not placed himself and his own desires above that of the rest. We can see that Tobit was truly an upright and just man, who loved others just as much as himself, not caring even about his own reputation, safety and personal matters, and who was also faithful to God despite the faithlessness among most of the people of Israel that had led to them ending up in exile in the first place. Despite the ridicule and the contempt from his neighbours, Tobit still did what he had done because of his faith and principles.

Later on when he became blind by an unfortunate accident, Tobit remained faithful and trusting in God, and sending his own son Tobias to settle matters for his family, God would help them all and bless Tobit and his whole family if we continue to read on the rest of the story of Tobit and his son Tobias. This is a reminder that God never abandons His people, and for all those who are faithful to Him, God will always be with them, guiding them and providing them at the time of their need, giving them His help and assistance through His mysterious ways and at His appointed time, just as He did to Tobit and his family without them all realising at first. Then, linking to what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, we are reminded to be similarly upright in life, and not be like those wicked tenants who were selfish and who allowed themselves to be swayed by worldly temptations and greed.

In that Gospel passage, we heard of the Lord Jesus telling His disciples about this matter using a parable, namely the parable of the wicked and evil tenants. It was told that the tenants who had leased a vineyard and its plots from its owner had reneged on their dues and supposed pay for the lease, and they refused the efforts from the master of the vineyard to collect their due payment, even harassing, persecuting and murdering all those servants who had been sent to them to remind them. In the end, they did not even respect or listen to the son of the master who was sent to them, and in fact, they even plotted against him and had evil designs and wicked desires in their heart to seize full control of the vineyard for themselves. It was then that the master therefore struck at those evil tenants and destroyed them.

These are all reminders for us to stay upright in our lives as Tobit and others had done before us, and not to give in to the temptations of worldly desires and greed, all of which can lead us down the slippery slope of sin and evil, that will bring us to our downfall, if we are not vigilant and ever careful. All of us should do our best not to allow all these things to happen to us, and hence, that is why we are always reminded to keep an eye on our actions and way of life, and be willing to listen to the Lord speaking to us, reminding us in our path and journey in life so that we do not end up falling away from the path that He has shown us. We are reminded that we all should also be humble, humble in being able to listen to the words of the Lord speaking in our hearts and minds, guiding us to Himself. And besides that, we also have our holy predecessors, the saints whose lives may inspire us.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Boniface, a great bishop and martyr who had dedicated his life and all of his works for the greater glory of God. He was an English Benedictine monk who was especially remembered for his efforts in evangelising amongst the Germanic people in the northern parts of what is Germany today, proclaiming the Good News and salvation of God to many of the people there who still believed in pagan and false gods and beliefs. He was born in England to a rather prominent family and then against the wishes of his father, learnt theology and eventually became a monk and priest. St. Boniface was then appointed as a missionary to the region in northern part of Germany and what is today Netherlands known as Frisia. In his mission to Frisia, the Pope appointed him as a missionary bishop to establish the Church in that region and to convert the people there to the true faith.

In a story still well-remembered to this day, St. Boniface once persuaded many among the pagans as he chopped a great oak tree held sacred by the German pagans, who revered the tree and the spirits. Miraculously a great wind blew upon the oak tree and the whole tree fell down to the ground. Having witnessed the miracle and the fact how St. Boniface was not struck down by their gods and deities for such a supposedly sacrilegious act, many among the pagans believed in God and gave themselves to be baptised by St. Boniface and other missionaries. He went on to establish many churches and institutions in his mission areas, and continued to labour for the good of the Lord and His Church until eventually he was martyred when he and his entourage was beset by a group of Frisian bandits during his last missionary trip to the region.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the courageous examples of Tobit and other faithful servants of God like St. Boniface and many others of our faithful and holy fellow brothers and sisters, our predecessors should inspire us all to also be faithful to God and to be fully dedicated to Him, to give our time and effort, our attention and more to serve the Lord our God at all times. May the Lord continue to bless us all and our every good efforts, works and endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 4 June 2023 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, the Sunday after the Pentecost Sunday, all of us, the whole Church celebrates the occasion of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, also known as Trinity Sunday. This Sunday marks a very important celebration for the Church as it commemorates one of the most crucial, distinctive and central tenets of our Christian faith. It is our belief in the Holy Trinity that sets us apart from any other monotheistic faith and beliefs, because while we truly believe in the Oneness of God, and that there is no other God besides Him, but at the same time, we believe that our One and only God exists in Three Divine Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. That is what our belief in the Most Holy Trinity is all about, and which we focus on in this Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.

It is also interesting that we always celebrate this Trinity Sunday at the Sunday immediately following the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday that marked the descent of the Holy Spirit on the people of God, on the Church. This is a reminder that all of us as part of the same Church of God has always been guided by the Lord all the same, willed into being by our Father and Creator, and with the Son having dwelled amongst us and walked with us, touching us all with His Presence in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, and finally, the Holy Spirit, the Lord and the Giver of life, have descended upon us, giving us the Wisdom, strength and courage to live our lives with great faith and commitment to God. Thus, in all aspects and parts of our lives, we always have God ever present by our side, with us, the same one and only True God.

Ever since the very beginning of the Church, the Apostles and the earliest Church fathers, bishops and priests and other Christians have testified and recorded the belief in the Triune God and in the Trinitarian nature of the Lord. While there were those who debated on whether the Lord Jesus was truly the Son of God or whether He was equal to the Father, or whether He was just like us, any other human beings, but most of the Church fathers and early Christians subscribed to the teachings and path that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was truly born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His Mother, and yet, is not merely just the Son of Man, but also the Son of God in the flesh, assuming our human existence and our form so that He might make His love to become tangible, real and approachable by us. By the will of the Father and by the power of the Holy Spirit, dwelling within Mary, the Divine Messiah was conceived in her, as the Son of God Most High made Man.

If there were indeed many of those who refused to believe that this was possible, or that the historical Man named Jesus Christ was truly the Son of God, Equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, then we must remember that everything is possible for God. If He could make the blind to see again, restore the sick and those who were dying, casting out demons and evil spirits, and raising the dead back to life, and if He could make the barren ones like Sarah, Hannah and Elizabeth to bear a child in their barrenness, and for Mary to have a Son without any human intervention and action, then everything is truly possible for God. Not only that but the Lord Jesus Himself has mentioned the Holy Trinity most clearly in the Great Commission that He entrusted to His disciples and followers, the mission of His Church which still continues to this very moment.

The Lord said, ‘Go and make disciples of all the nations, and baptise them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.’ Through this simple and direct instruction, the Lord has made it truly clear of the connection and the equal nature between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus has often referred to the Father in Heaven as His heavenly Father, and referring to Himself as the Son. If the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are referring to different beings, how can we then reconcile our believe in the one and only true God as the Church fathers and the old Jewish and Israelite faith and customs had believed? Therefore, each of the members of the Holy Trinity must indeed be referring to the same God, that has manifested in Three Divine Persons, namely the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Throughout the Scriptures, we can find clear indication how the Lord has revealed Himself in His identity as the Holy Trinity, the Triune God, One God consisting of Three distinct Persons, and Three Persons united indivisibly as One God. At the very beginning when God created all things, the three members of the Holy Trinity were already present, highlighting our belief in the Co-Equal and Co-Eternal nature of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and also their consubstantial nature, having the same Divine essence and substance, with the Father being fully God and Divine, and so is the Son and so is the Holy Spirit. At the beginning, God the Father willed all things to be created, from nothingness into being, and He did so, as we read in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, through His Word, and this was referred to at the beginning of the Gospel of St. John.

St. John began his Gospel with ‘In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God; He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing came to be.’ Through this part from St. John’s Gospel we are reminded that the Word of God was the means through which God created all of us, and this Word of God is the Son, just as St. John further continued on with, ‘And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us; and we have seen His glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father.’ which highlighted to us that the Word of God, the Divine Logos Himself, has become Man, taking up our existence and appearance, becoming fully Divine and fully Man in the Person of Jesus Christ, the One through Whom God’s love and truth have been made tangible and approachable to all of us. The Lord Jesus Himself said to Nicodemus, that God so loved the world, that He sent unto us His beloved Son, to save the world, and He did indeed save the world, by His death on the Cross.

Then, the Holy Spirit, in the Book of Genesis was described as being present throughout the whole thing before existence and before creation, and through the Holy Spirit, the world has life, just as we said in the Creed, ‘I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and the Giver of Life’ and the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son, as the Holy Spirit came unto us from the Father, Who willed that His Spirit came unto us, and by His Word, everything came to be. At Pentecost, which we have just celebrated last Sunday, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord, strengthening them and empowering them just as the Lord Jesus, the Son, has promised that the Father would send them the Holy Spirit. It was through the same Spirit that all of us have received life as well, and those who have received the Holy Spirit, that is all of us, have received more fully the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Now, we can all see how the Holy Trinity has always worked together, in perfect harmony with each other. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit all worked together and were united in purpose and action, as although They are Three distinct Persons, but They are indivisible and inseparable from each other, and is part of one Godhood. It is wrong to say that the Father is the Son, or the Holy Spirit, or vice versa as They are all distinct from each other. But They exist together in one perfect union of love that cannot be separated, by anyone or anything. The Father is fully God, just as the Son is fully God, and the Holy Spirit is also fully God, all sharing the same Godhood, the one and only True God. This is something which some people find hard to accept or to understand, and some failed to believe it because they thought that they knew things better. But God and His mysteries are far more than what we can comprehend with our minds alone.

There are many ways for us to understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity better, one of which is the famous shamrock or three-leaf clover that St. Patrick used in his missionary work in Ireland, as he utilised it to explain better the mystery of the Holy Trinity to those whom he was evangelising and preaching the Good News so that they may know God and His truth and identity better. The shamrock or the three-leaf clover is a leaf composed of three leaf blades conjoined together as one leaf. We can clearly see that there are three parts of the one leaf, that are distinct from each other and yet each of them are inseparable from each other without diminishing and changing the whole leaf. In the same way therefore, each of the members of the Holy Trinity are distinct from each other while at the same time being indivisibly united as One, and we cannot take One out of the Three without diminishing or changing the nature of God.

Another way is to use the symbolism of a flame, which can also be used to represent somewhat the concept of the Holy Trinity. Flame has three dimensions just as the Holy Trinity is composed of three Members or Persons. Flame consists of its heat, its light as well as its appearance and shape, all three of which makes up a flame as we all know it. We can feel the heat from the flame of a burning object, and we can see the illumination from the light given off by the flame, and we can see the shape of the flame itself as it burns brightly. If we are to remove the heat from the flame, it will indeed be very strange to be able to see a flame and yet without its heat, or if we remove the light instead, to see a flame with its heat, but not being able to see the light that it should have illuminated the room with. Through this comparison, we can see that each aspects of the flame are distinct from each other, and yet, each one of them describe what the whole full flame is all about, and we cannot subtract one from the whole or else we diminish or make the whole unrecognisable and different.

In the same manner therefore, the Holy Trinity is indeed composed of Three Divine Persons, the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, each of Whom are equally Divine, equal in their substance and essence, equal in their Lordship and Existence from time immemorial, before even time and existence themselves began. They are Co-Equal and Co-Eternal, distinct from each other and yet at the same time, being perfectly united as the One and only One True God of all. That is what we believe in as Christians, in God Who is One but Three, and Who is also Three but One. One God, One Godhood but Three Divine Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Each of the Three Divine Persons show the different aspects of the One Godhood, and which are perfectly united and are in harmony with each other in the perfect union of perfect love that is found in God alone.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, while we may try to make the concept of the Holy Trinity better understood, as how the Church fathers and others like St. Patrick had done, and as I had attempted to explain and elaborate on ways to understand the Holy Trinity mystery better, but the reality is that, this most important tenet of our faith is indeed a mystery that can never actually be fully understood by our minds and intelligence alone. We have to understand and appreciate the Holy Trinity through the eyes of faith, and by listening to God Himself speaking to us through the Wisdom He has given us through the Holy Spirit. That is how we can truly understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity, guided by the Lord and His love, His Wisdom and His providence.

And we should not try to seek to know the fullness of the truth behind the Holy Trinity, as St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the most brilliant among the Church fathers and a Doctor of the Church can show us, in how when he was pondering about the mystery of the Holy Trinity, he encountered a young boy by the seashore, pouring the water of the sea into a small hole using a seashell. When St. Augustine asked the boy, the boy responded saying that he was pouring the whole entire sea into the small hole, which was impossible, and when St. Augustine mentioned that to the young boy, it was when the young boy, which was a vision for St. Augustine to remind him, responded that the same applies therefore to his attempts to understand the Holy Trinity, as it is impossible for the limited human mind and intelligence to be able to contain and understand the full nature of the Holy Trinity.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore reflect carefully on our faith in our God, the Most Holy Trinity of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Let us all do whatever we can to believe wholeheartedly in Him, and entrusting ourselves to His Providence so that we may truly live our lives worthy of God, guided by the will of the Father, led by the examples of the Son, and encouraged by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. May our lives be the shining beacons of light and truth of God to many others who journey together with us and encounter us at each and every moments. May our Lord, the Most Holy Trinity, continue to bless us and guide us throughout our lives, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 3 June 2023 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are called to keep on doing what the Lord has asked and entrusted to all of us to do in our own respective lives, and each one of us who have been given the Wisdom and the blessings of God, His grace and love, we have the obligation and duty to proclaim the truth and Good News of God according to what we have received through His Wisdom and the through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, by which He has strengthened us in faith and knowledge, in courage and strength. As Christians, called to love the Lord and serve Him, and doing the same to our fellow brothers and sisters, each and every one of us should make good use of these gifts God has given us so that our lives may truly be worthy and good for Him and His cause.

In our first reading today, the prophet Sirach in his Book mentioned how as Christians and therefore, the followers and disciples of the Lord, all of us should live our lives and how we should all behave in each and every moments of our lives. All of us should live our lives faithfully and dedicate ourselves thoroughly to the Lord despite the hardships and challenges that we all may have to face. Each and every one of us should always trust in the Lord and allow Him to guide us down the path of righteousness and truth, never wavering even amidst the many challenges and hardships that we may have to endure for being faithful Christians, followers and disciples of the Lord. We may be questioned and challenged by others who disagreed with us, but if we firmly hang on to the truth, we will never falter and not even the greatest trials can overcome our faith in God.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard from the moment after the Lord had cleared the Temple from the wicked and cheating merchants and money changers, who were profiting greatly from overcharging the worshippers and others visitors to the Temple of God in Jerusalem. Thus, the Lord Jesus angrily chased them all out of the Temple and scolded them all for their wicked actions, in turning the Holy House of God into a den of robbers, causing corruption, evil and sin to taint the sanctity of the Place where God Himself was present in this world. The Lord Jesus came to purify the faith, to proclaim to all that what their leaders practiced and all of their rituals and other excesses were distractions that actually caused us to be separated from God and His love and grace.

And as we heard, the Lord immediately faced challenges and opposition, which happened because the Temple authorities, the chief priests and others were concerned with what the Lord had done. They questioned the Lord on the actions He had done, and the authority by which He had done so. But the Lord answered them with great courage and challenged them back on what they said about the baptism of St. John the Baptist and all of his other works. As a context, the same group of Temple authorities, the elders and the Pharisees were also against the works of St. John the Baptist, and questioned the latter exactly in the same manner that they had also questioned the Lord. But they did not dare to publicly challenge the Lord and the works of St. John the Baptist, as these two were very popular among the people, and it would have caused a great uproar should the Temple authorities chose to do so.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of these highlighted to us the kind of hardships and challenges that we as Christians may have to face in the midst of us living our Christian lives faithfully and obediently, just as the Lord Jesus and St. John the Baptist have carried out their respective ministries, and faced often bitter and persistent opposition and challenges from those who refused to believe in them, and in God’s truth and Good News. Instead, they chose to persist in their error and disobedience, thinking that as the custodians of the Law and the leaders of the people of God, they were above the Law and the truth itself, and that they could never go wrong. Their pride, which intermingled with their greed and desires, and fear that their influence and power would wane, should the worshippers and those merchants were to avoid the Temple by the Lord’s actions, made them to oppose the Lord.

We must not give up despite all these challenges and oppositions, and we should persevere and be strong amidst all these obstacles we may have to face, being inspired by the many great examples of our holy predecessors, the great saints and other holy men and women in the past who had laboured well and dedicated their whole lives to the Lord. Each one of us are reminded that we are never walking this journey and all of us are always guided by the Lord through His Wisdom and the Holy Spirit. However, it is often that we become complacent and slack in how we live our lives, taking the easy way out and preferring to conform to the ways of the world, especially to the path of evil, wickedness and sin. This is not the path which we should be taking, as we are reminded that if we follow those path, we will easily drift away from God and His truth, as the chief priests and the Pharisees had done.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Charles Lwanga and his holy companions in martyrdom, collectively known as the Holy Ugandan Martyrs. They all dedicated themselves to the Lord, missionaries, local priests and faithful laymen and laywomen alike, who were persecuted for their faith in God, and remained firmly resolute and committed in their faith in God to the very end, despite the temptations, coercions and threats that they were facing. Back then, St. Charles Lwanga himself was the chief page and an important servant of the King of the Kingdom of Buganda in what is today Uganda. He encountered the Christian faith through the missionaries who proclaimed the Lord and His Good News among the people there in that region. Back then, the King was a great pedophile who preyed on the young pages of the kingdom, and the opposition from Christian missionaries against such practices caused the king to conduct massacres against them.

St. Charles Lwanga himself was convinced of the truth that the Lord had delivered through the Catholic missionaries, the White Fathers who were there, and St. Charles Lwanga along with many others among Buganda’s court members and servants were also baptised together as Christians. St. Charles Lwanga also protected the pages, the young boys under his care from the king’s perverted and wicked actions. It was then that the king and those among his courtiers that had become Christians came to a point of contention, as the former condemned some of them to death, which led to St. Charles Lwanga and the other servants to stand up for their faith publicly, and they were therefore led to be martyred by being burnt alive. At the site where he and others were martyred now stands the great Basilica of the Holy Ugandan Martyrs at Namugongo, where the relics of those faithful martyrs are enshrined. Their fidelity and commitment to God served as great examples and inspirations to all of us Christians in how we ourselves should live up to our Christian calling and mission in our lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore reflect on these words of the Scriptures that we have heard and received, and also on the lives of our holy predecessors, particularly those of the Holy Martyrs of Uganda, in their most courageous defence of their faith and commitment to the Lord’s truth and righteousness. Are we willing and able to commit ourselves in the same way as well, brethren? Are we willing and able to carry our own crosses in life, in following the Lord ever more faithfully in each and every passing moments? Let us all discern our path forward well and carefully so that we may continue to inspire many others to walk in God’s Presence and to be steadfast in our obedience and commitment to Him, despite the many challenges and trials that we may have to face. Let us remember that even our Lord Himself has been rejected and opposed throughout His life and ministry. May the Lord continue to strengthen and bless us in our every works and endeavours, in all the things we do for His greater glory, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 2 June 2023 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, each one of us are called and reminded to be truly faithful and committed to God, not to forget our obligations and calling to do what He has willed and commanded us to do. All of us as Christians have responded to God’s call and have been chosen as His own beloved ones, as those whom He will bless and guide throughout our lives, by the protection and strength that He would provide for us through His Presence and the Holy Spirit. We must always bear rich fruits of our faith and the Holy Spirit, by doing whatever we can to be exemplary in our way of life and actions, by living our lives earnestly and most faithfully in the manner that the Lord has taught and commanded us all to do.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Sirach in which the prophet Sirach spoke of how people who were wicked and who did not do good things were quickly forgotten or shunned. This is indeed true as those who committed crimes and wicked things, or those who have been selfish in their lives may indeed have good and pleasurable lives, but they would be remembered with infamy and hated by everyone who came after them. Is that what we want to be remembered as, brothers and sisters in Christ? The prophet Sirach also mentioned how those who did not do anything good or evil, were also easily forgotten and not remembered, because they simply had not done anything good and memorable at all, or as mentioned, in doing things that are wicked and unjust.

On the contrary, the prophet Sirach highlighted how those who have done good and obeyed the Lord’s will and commandments, and those who have been living righteously, if they are remembered, their memories will be great and wonderful, and will inspire many generations afterwards. People will emulate them based on their good actions, words and deeds, and their lives and virtues will be extolled by many of those who may be touched by their great examples and lives. We have seen this in the many people and all those whom the world called as heroes and heroines, and in our Church itself, we have those that the Church had declared to be worthy and righteous, just and inspirational, as the saints and blesseds, whose memories we honour and celebrate every year, in memory of all the good things that they had done.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the account of the Lord Who encountered a fig tree that was barren and did not lay any fruits at all, and the Lord cursed the fig tree, before then clearing the Temple of Jerusalem from all the merchants and money changers carrying out their businesses and works at the courtyard of the Temple and House of God. The Lord chased off all those dishonest people who were notorious for having cheated on all the worshippers and other visitors to the Temple in doing their business, overcharging their customers and getting lots of profits for their services with the tacit approval of the Temple’s chief priests and authorities. These are things that the Lord despised, for all of the wickedness that those people had committed, and hence, He drove all of them out of the House of His Heavenly Father, and told everyone not to make His Father’s House as a den of robbers.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore through what we have heard in our Scripture passages today, all of us are reminded that each and every one of us should get rid from ourselves the darkness and corruptions of sin and evil, and all the things which have often kept us away from the fullness of God’s grace and love. And just as the prophet Sirach had reminded us and as the Lord had done, in driving all of those unscrupulous and cheating merchants away from God’s House, thus, each and every one of us are called to purify ourselves, our hearts, minds and our whole entire beings from the corruptions of sin and from all the wickedness and temptations of the evils of this world. Each and every one of us should make the conscious efforts and the works needed for us to remain true in our faith and in doing what the Lord Himself has taught and told us to do in our lives.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of two great saints whose lives, actions and dedication to God hopefully can inspire each one of us to be faithful to the Lord in the similar manner as well. St. Marcellinus and St. Peter were faithful Christians who were persecuted for their faith, and they were, according to the Christian traditions, either priests or ministers of the faith, with St. Marcellinus reputedly being a priest and St. Peter was an exorcist, who were arrested and tortured during one of the most brutal episodes of Christian persecutions under the Roman Emperor Diocletian. According to the same traditions, the two saints gladly faced martyrdom and prepared the site where they were then beheaded and buried, in a place that was purposefully kept hidden so that they could not be venerated by the other Christians later on.

Nonetheless, according to Church traditions, the Lord inspired two women, named Lucilla and Firmina to discover the martyrdom and burial site of the two great martyrs, and they were properly buried, becoming great inspiration for many other Christians of the later era, right up to our time. The tale of their courageous and unwavering faith amidst the intense trials, hardships and challenges that they had to face as servants and followers of the Lord would inspire countless people of God throughout the subsequent years, decades and centuries, and being commemorated even in the Roman Canon amongst the few martyrs listed there highlighted just how influential both St. Marcellinus and St. Peter had been in the history of the Church throughout the ages. Their lives and examples should therefore also serve as inspirations and examples for us all as well.

May the Lord, our most loving God and Father, our Saviour and King continue to help and guide us throughout our journey, and may the inspiration and good examples showed by His great servants, the martyr saints, St. Marcellinus and St. Peter continue to lead us down the path of faith and righteousness, Christian virtues and dedication so that we may grow ever closer in our relationship with God and in our faith in Him. May our own actions, words and deeds, our every good works and interactions be filled with true Christian faith and way of life, and may we glorify the Lord in each and every moments of our lives. May God bless us all in everything we do, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 1 June 2023 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, all of us are called to remember the Lord and everything that He has done for our sake, that despite all which we have done to spite and anger Him, because of our disobedience, stubbornness and sins, but God still loves us all and still patiently called on all of us to follow Him, and to turn away from all those evils and wickedness, so that we may be renewed and reconciled with Him, and no longer separated from Him due to our sins and evils. That is why today all of us are reminded again to put our trust in the Lord and believe in Him as in Him alone we shall have true satisfaction and joy, and He will provide for us what we need in life.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Sirach in which the prophet Sirach mentioned of the great works of the Lord which were truly wonderful, and everything happened in this universe precisely because the Lord has willed it all to be. Nothing happened without the Lord’s approval and without being aligned to His will. He knows all that we need and He will always be by our side, providing for us and guiding us through the path that we are walking through in this life. He leads us down the right path, and whenever we err and disobey Him, choosing to walk our own path and end up in misfortune and sufferings, He chastises and disciplines us, but He does so not out of Him despising us, rather from a sincere desire to help us and to lead us back to Himself. He never despised us but rather He despised the sins which we have committed.

And all of us have to realise that it is through God and with God alone that we can fully and completely overcome the many allures and temptations of sin, and all the things that have kept us enslaved to the power of sin, evil and death, just as what we have heard in our Gospel passage today have reminded us yet again about this fact. There we heard of the Lord Jesus healing the sight of a blind man named Bartimaeus, who begged Him to heal his sight, calling upon Him, ‘Son of David, Jesus, have mercy upon me!’ again and again. Through that act, the blind man Bartimaeus has shown that his faith and trust in the Lord was truly great, and endured even amidst all the ridicule he was facing and the efforts by those who tried to silence him and stop him from seeking help from the Lord. He kept on trying regardless, and kept on seeking the Lord.

It was this great faith which moved the Lord to act on Bartimaeus, healing him from his blindness and ailment, allowing him to finally see again, and to be whole again. By the grace and love of God, and by His will, Bartimaeus was able to see, and this was something that was considered impossible, and even in our modern day, with all the technological advances in medicine and other things, there are many things that are impossible for us to do, without God’s will and guidance. By faith, Bartimaeus and many others have been touched and healed by the Lord Himself, and also through His Apostles and successors, throughout the history of the Church. This reminds us all that as long as we entrust ourselves in the Lord and in His Providence, we shall never be disappointed, and we shall always be blessed and strengthened by His love and grace.

Now, all of us should be inspired by the examples of faith shown by Bartimaeus, and heed the reminders told unto us by the prophet Sirach, so that we may continue to uphold the faith we ought to have in the Lord Jesus Christ, in His love and power to heal us and to save us. Each and every one of us as Christians are all called to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and to be filled with faith and devotion to Him. We should love Him wholeheartedly and continue to walk in His path, following what He has guided us into, and be encouraged and reassured that He will always be by our side, guiding and empowering us throughout the way. Nothing can separate us from the love of God, and unless we ourselves have consistently and repeatedly rejected Him and His love, all these are always available to us right up to the end of our lives.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Justin, a great saint and man of God and a holy martyr of the Church and the Christian faith. St. Justin is a great example for all of us in how he completely dedicated his life to the service of God and in his persistence in enduring all the challenges and persecutions he faced, even right up to the moment of his martyrdom, always full of faith and commitment to God. St. Justin was a Greek man who converted to the Christian faith when he encountered an old man, who was likely a Syrian Christian by the seashore, and engaged with him in a dialogue about God, convincing him that the faith in God, His prophets and messengers are far better and superior than engaging in the wisdom and debates of the philosophers, as St. Justin was searching for the meaning of life and truth back then.

Afterwards, St. Justin dedicated himself wholly to the pursuit of the Good News, convinced fully of the message of the truth which Christ Our Lord has brought unto us, and which the Lord has revealed to us with His coming, and through the Holy Spirit that has been sent unto us all. St. Justin proclaimed the Lord henceforth, all of His truth and Good News, and began teaching as a Christian philosopher, gathering quite a number of people who were convinced by what he has been preaching about the Lord, with great wisdom and zeal. St. Justin and some of his students, according to Church traditions, were persecuted and martyred by the Roman authorities during one of the episodes of the persecution of Christians. He remained firm and resolute in his faith right up to the very end, inspiring countless generations of Christians afterwards.

May the Lord continue to guide each and every one of us, and may He empower all of us to live ever more graciously and with greater commitment in His Presence, according to His will, and be inspired by the great examples of our holy predecessors, His great servants, like St. Justin and many others. May He bless our works and efforts, and all of our endeavours for His greater glory, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 31 May 2023 : Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the last day in the month of May, also known as the month of the Rosary, we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Chronologically, this feast celebrates what occurred back then during the time when Mary, who was bearing within her the Son of God Himself, went to visit her cousin Elizabeth in the hillside of Judea. Elizabeth was then heavily pregnant and was almost due for her son, the future St. John the Baptist, and both women had their children conceived in the most miraculous way. Mary conceived the Child in her womb without any human intervention, as the Holy Spirit overshadowed her and by the power and will of God, the Divine Son of God, the Word of God Himself became incarnate in the flesh, to be born of Mary as the Son of Man, the Saviour of the world. Meanwhile Elizabeth conceived a child in her old age, something that seemed impossible, especially after many years having unsuccessfully conceived a child at all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard from our first reading today taken from the Book of the prophet Zephaniah, we are reminded that this day is truly a joyful celebration because of the great things that the Lord had done for His faithful servants, for Mary and Elizabeth, in performing great and miraculous deeds through them and their respective conceiving of their children. The prophet Zephaniah was conveying the great joy that the people of God ought to experience because of everything that the Lord had shown them, in the faithfulness and steadfastness that He had shown towards His Covenant with all of His beloved people, and in many other things that He has done for us. And most importantly, as mentioned, through Mary and Elizabeth, the light of God’s salvation and Good News was finally revealed to us, through our Lord and Saviour Himself, and through His Herald, St. John the Baptist.

Then, as we heard the account of the encounter between the two women, Mary and Elizabeth as told by our Gospel passage today, we are all reminded of the love which God has shown us that He was willing to come into our midst, and He did so not in a magnificent and glorious manner, but He came to us through two ordinary woman, and especially through His mother Mary, a most ordinary woman and virgin from the unassuming small town of Nazareth in Galilee, with her cousin Elizabeth, another ordinary elderly woman living in Judea. Yet, it was through them that God made His salvation tangible and real to us, one as the mother of His Herald to proclaim His Good News and to prepare everyone for His coming, and one as His own Mother, allowing Him to enter this world in the flesh, coming upon us and dwelling in our midst.

Then in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the great song of rejoicing by Mary, who was full of the Holy Spirit, inspired to sing that song which we all now know as the Magnificat. The Magnificat is a great hymn of praise and thanksgiving which summarised the great joy which all of us mankind experienced for having seen and received the salvation from God and the assurance that everything which He had promised would come true. For Mary herself, the joy was even greater because she would become no less than the Mother of God herself, and God chose her, a humble and poor young woman, as the Vessel and the one to bear the Saviour, to bring forth the deliverance that God has long promised His people. God truly works in mysterious ways, and this was how our salvation came to be, not through great miracles and wonders by a mighty and conquering God, but through a simple yet devout woman who embraced her role and answered positively to the Lord’s call.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to these words from the Scriptures and recalled how the Lord had performed His great and wonderful deeds through those two great and holy women, Mary, Mother of God and Mother of us all, and St. Elizabeth, the Mother of St. John the Baptist, all of us are reminded that each and every one of us also share in their grace and the love which God has shown both of them. All of us are also beloved children, the sons and daughters of God by adoption through Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. Therefore, all of us, having been made sharers in our Lord’s plan of salvation and the New Covenant that He has established with us, the Church that He has established in this world as the tangible and real Communion of all those who are faithful to Him, all of us have also received the same assurance of salvation and eternal life, and we should emulate both Mary and Elizabeth in their response and faith.

Each and every one of us have been blessed and provided by the Lord with a variety of gifts, talents, abilities and opportunities, unique to each one of us and our various circumstances. Therefore, all of us are called and sent out to do God’s will in our various capacities and opportunities, and we should do whatever we can to glorify God in all things, and in our every actions and works, in even the smallest and least significant of the things we do. We should live our lives with zeal and commitment, entrusting ourselves to the Lord and doing whatever we can to carry out His will and to follow Him as best as we are able to. We should not be idle or ignorant of what we can contribute to the good works of the Church, but do our best always, at all times to serve the Lord and to inspire each other by our own lives and actions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us emulate the faith that Mary and Elizabeth had in the Lord and let us do what we can to make good use of the blessings and opportunities provided for us so that we may help to lead more and more souls back towards the Lord and that we may proclaim God and His Good News among more people and in more places, that we do not waste these opportunities provided for us. Each one of us can serve our role and parts as members of God’s Church and as an integral part of the work of the Church’s mission in evangelising the world. Each one of us should help others to fulfil their parts and roles in loving God and loving one another, that the Lord’s works become ever more tangible in this world, and more and more may come to experience God’s great love and glory.

May the Lord continue to guide us in our path, and may He empower all of us to walk ever more faithfully in His ways, providing us the courage and strength to do His will, and the perseverance and commitment to endure the challenges and trials that may come our way. May the Lord give us the Spirit to walk ever more faithfully like Mary and Elizabeth had done, so that we may be more and more like them and our holy predecessors in how we live our lives, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 30 May 2023 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all reminded that following the Lord as Christians is something that will require from us a commitment and the willingness to face hardships and challenges, trials and more for the sake of the Lord. Following God requires us all to be active and be filled with dedication to the Covenant that He has established with each one of us. The Lord has also dedicated Himself to the same Covenant, and lest we think that He has not suffered or made His effort, then we must remind ourselves how He sent to us His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, Who came into our midst and was persecuted for our sake. We must remember how the Lord Himself went through the worst of it all just so that all of us might be saved, by laying down His own life on the Cross.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Sirach, which exhorted the people of God to live their lives worthily and well, in accordance with the Law and commandments of God, to be selfless and caring towards others, just as the Lord has taught us all how we should be living our lives as Christians in this world. The prophet said how everyone ought to be kind and just towards each other, and shun all kinds of evils and wickedness, and to be truly faithful in all things, and not just merely paying lip service in the faith. He also highlighted how the Lord knows everything in our minds and hearts, and we should not come to the Lord with an empty hand, but with offering. If we read this literally, we may think that the prophet Sirach referred to the sacrificial offerings that were commonly offered at the Temple like the burnt offerings and others. However, in truth, if we understand the context of what he had said in this whole segment, then it went really much deeper than that.

The prophet Sirach wanted all the faithful people of God to live wholeheartedly in the presence of God, full of genuine love for Him and for everyone, ever faithful and ever dedicated to Him, in all things, and not just outwardly only. This is of course not easy to be done, as more often than not, we will be tempted to put ourselves and our desires first than that of others. In this world, we tend to live inherently selfish lifestyle, and often we are taught and shown that we ought to put ourselves first before that of others. However, that is against what the Lord Himself has told us to do, and hence, as Christians, we often have to go on this path that may not necessarily be aligned with the path that is common and understandable by the world and many of the people around us.

That is why all of us are reminded that as Christians, all of us are called to a new way of life and existence, which sometimes require sacrifices and commitment from us, and some amongst us are called to make more sacrifices and to endure more hardships, depending on our vocation and calling in life. Like the Apostles as mentioned in our Gospel passage today, and as St. Peter asked the Lord, mentioning how they have given up on a lot of things to follow Him, which was indeed the case. They had to leave behind their families, loved ones and past lives, their works, careers and other things because they dedicated themselves wholly to the Lord, to do the works of the Lord at all times, and to be His missionaries and evangelisers among the various peoples that they had been sent to.

The Lord again reassured them all, and all of us, just as what we have heard from the prophet Sirach, that He truly knew everything, and that all of us who have given up a lot for Him, dedicating ourselves to Him and spent the time to carry out His will, shall not be disappointed as He knew all that we have done for Him, and He will bless us and keep us all in His grace and love. This is a reassurance and reminder that we should continue to live our lives faithfully in God and we should not allow the temptations of this world and the fear of sufferings and persecutions, hardships or trials to sway us from our path and from the way of righteousness. If we allow ourselves to be swayed as such, we will end up quickly losing our path in life, and will likely fall deeper and deeper into the path of sin and evil.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today therefore as we continue to carry on living our lives in this world today, let us all dedicate ourselves anew to Him, to our loving God and Saviour. In all the things we say and do, let us all be genuine in living our lives in a most Christian manner, in loving God and loving one another wholeheartedly. This is our Christian mission and calling, brethren, and one that we should heed as we continue living our lives with faith and commitment to God. But are we able to do this? Are we willing and able to follow the Lord wholeheartedly as we should, trusting in Him and believing that even if we have to endure hardships for Him, that it is all worth the efforts? And not just that, but all of us are also part of the Church has the obligation and calling to be active in its works and mission, to reach out to more and more people all around us.

Therefore, let us all commit ourselves, our time and efforts from now on, especially if we have not done so, to be missionary and evangelising in our lives, and we can do so not by grand actions or mere words, but by every single actions and deeds, words and interactions we make, even to the smallest and seemingly least significant ones. All of them are part of our contribution to our Christian faith and living, and it is by truly living up to our Christian faith that we are all expected to do in our lives, that we can proclaim the Good News of God most efficiently and most worthily to many more people around us. How can we expect others to believe in the Lord if we have not truly believed in Him ourselves and if we have not acted or lived our lives in the manner that we are all expected to? Let us all ponder and reflect on these things as we continue carrying out our mission as Christians.

May the Lord continue to guide each and every one of us, and help us to live our lives as Christians, as His disciples and followers with zeal and commitment, in each and every moments of our lives, from now on and always. May He bless our every good works, efforts and endeavours, in all things. Amen.

Monday, 29 May 2023 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is the day after the Pentecost Sunday, and therefore mark the beginning of the second part of the Ordinary Time of this current liturgical year. And on this day the Church celebrates the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God herself in her aspect as the Mother of the Church or Mater Ecclesiae. We remember Mary in her constant guidance and protection for the Church that has been entrusted by her own Son to her care, so that all of us may always seek for her intercession and guidance, and do not easily give up the struggles and the trials that we may have to face in this world in becoming faithful disciples and followers of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of our beloved Mother, who is also the Mother of the Church, the Mother of all of us.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Genesis of the account of the downfall of mankind which happened because the first woman, Eve, was unable to resist the temptations of the devil who convinced her to disobey the Lord and succumb to the temptations of her desires, eating the forbidden fruit of the Tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Gardens of Eden. Through her therefore, disobedience and sin entered into the hearts of mankind, separating us from the grace and love of God. Mankind was cast out from the Gardens of Eden, and forced to wander off and suffer the consequences of our disobedience and evils, our sins and failure to listen to the words of God. And this was highlighted today because Mary is also known as the New Eve just as Christ is the New Adam.

That is because unlike and opposite that of the original Eve, Mary as the New Eve obeyed the Lord perfectly and wholeheartedly, saying yes to the Lord Who revealed to her through the Archangel Gabriel that she would be the Mother and bearer of the Messiah, the Son of God Himself, incarnate in the flesh. Such a task must have been very challenging and difficult, and yet, despite all the uncertainties, Mary chose to entrust herself to the Lord and to dedicate herself wholly to Him, answering His call with a resounding yes. Her obedience to God and her faith became therefore the source through which salvation entered into the world, coming through her Son, Who was in her womb for nine months, and afterwards, she continued to take care of her Son, Our Lord and Saviour, and followed Him throughout all His works and ministry.

And we heard of how the Lord entrusted her to His disciple St. John in our Gospel passage today, to be his Mother and hence, by extension, as the Mother of all the faithful and of the whole entire Church. Mary followed her Son all the way even throughout all of His Passion, His sufferings and crucifixion right up to the very foot of the Cross. She watched her own Son dying before her, and faithfully continued to dedicate herself to Him. That is all how Mary, as the New Eve, have shown us true obedience, love for God and faith in Him, an example and inspiration that all of us as Christians should be inspired to follow and emulate as well. Mary, as the Mother of the Church is also our Mother, loving and ever caring towards us, ever concerned about us falling again and again into sin and being separated from His Son.

That is why, today, all of us are reminded of our obligation and need to follow our Blessed Mother’s own examples in faith and do whatever we can so that we can be good role models and inspirations ourselves for our fellow brethren in faith, and for many others who have not yet known the Lord or those who have not yet understood His teachings and commandments. And it is through our own examples and actions, our worthy and exemplary way of life that just like Mary, our Mother herself had done, we can inspire others and be great missionaries and evangelisers of our Christian faith. Through Mary, the Mother of the Church, all of us are also led to follow her examples and to follow the path that she led us into, the most direct path to her Son, Our Lord and Saviour.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we embark on this time post Easter, with this Ordinary Time and season, let us all remind ourselves that this time is not for us to slacken our faith life and our Christian obligations and duties. The word Ordinary here as we all ought to know does not refer to anything being ordinary or usual, but rather refers to the word ‘Ordinal’, which pertains to the numbered nature of the weekly observance of the Lord’s time and year, right up to the very last day of our current liturgical year. And all of us as Christians have the important calling and mission to lead a worthy and holy life, dedicated and committed to God much like Mary, our Mother and the Mother of the Church had done in her own life.

Let us all ask Our Blessed Mother to intercede for us and to lead us down the path of righteousness, to always inspire and remind us whenever we err or make any mistakes in life, so that we will not be easily be swayed by the many temptations all around us, all the evils and wickedness of the world. Let us all follow the Lord and His Mother, and do whatever it is that we have been called to do, to be worthy in all things and to commit our lives anew as Christians, those whom God had called and chosen to be His own beloved people. Let all of our actions, works and deeds from now on continue to inspire many others and help many of our fellow brethren to be able to come ever closer to God together with each one of us.

Mary, our loving Mother and the Mother of the Church, pray for us all sinners and pray for the Church that your Son, Our Lord and Saviour, had established in this world. Intercede for us all whenever we need your help, and be with us always in our journey towards your Son. May God be with us all and with His Church, now and always. Amen.