Thursday, 9 January 2014 : Thursday after the Epiphany (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 4 : 14-22a

Jesus acted with the power of the Spirit; and on His return to Galilee, the news about Him spread throughout all that territory. He began teaching in the synagogues of the Jews and everyone praised Him.

When Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, as He usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed Him the Book of the prophet Isaiah

Jesus then unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written : “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. He has anointed Me to bring Good News to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and new sight to the blind; to free the oppressed and to announce the Lord’s year of mercy.”

Jesus then rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. Then He said to them, “Today these prophetic words come true, even as you listen.”

All agreed with Him, and were lost in wonder, while He spoke of the grace of God.

Thursday, 3 October 2013 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 10 : 1-12

After this, the Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples, and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place, where He Himself was to go. And He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to His harvest. Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know.”

“Whatever house you enter, first bless them, saying, ‘Peace to this house!’ If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house.”

“When they welcome you to any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there, and say to them : ‘The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.’ But in any town where you are not welcome, go to the marketplace and proclaim : ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off and leave with you. But know for a certainty that the kingdom of God has drawn near to you.’ I tell you, that on the Day of Judgment, it will be better for Sodom than for this town.”

Wednesday, 25 September 2013 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 9 : 1-6

Then Jesus called His twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to drive out all evil spirits and to heal diseases. And He sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

He instructed them, “Do not take anything for the journey, neither walking stick, nor bag, nor bread, nor silver coins; and do not even take a spare tunic. Whatever house you enter, remain there until you leave that place. And wherever they do not welcome you, leave the town and shake the dust from your feet : it will be as a testimony against them.”

So they set out and went through the villages, proclaiming the Good News and healing people everywhere.

Sunday, 22 September 2013 : 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 16 : 1-13

At another time Jesus told His disciples, “There was a rich man, whose steward was reported to him for fraudulent service. He summoned the steward  and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? I want you to render an account of your service, for it is about to be terminated.'”

“The steward thought to himself, ‘What am I to do now? My master will surely dismiss me. I am not strong enough to do hard work, and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I will do : I must make sure that when I am dismissed, there will be people who will welcome me into their homes.'”

“So he called his master’s debtors, one by one. He asked the first debtor, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ The reply was, ‘A hundred jars of oil.’ The steward said, ‘Here is your bill. Sit down quickly and write fifty.’ To the second debtor he put the same question, ‘How much do you owe?’ The answer was, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ Then the steward said, ‘Take your bill and write eighty.'”

“The master commended the dishonest steward for his astuteness : for the people of this world are more astute, in dealing with their own kind, than are the people of light. And so I tell you : use filthy money to make friends for yourselves, so that, when it fails, these people may welcome you into the eternal homes.”

“Whoever can be trusted in little things can also be trusted in great ones; whoever is dishonest in slight matters will also be dishonest in greater ones. So if you have been dishonest in handling filthy money, who would entrust you with true wealth? And if you have been dishonest with things that are not really yours, who will give you that wealth which is truly your own?”

“No servant can serve two masters. Either he does not like the one and is fond of the other, or he regards one highly and the other with contempt. You cannot give yourself both to God and to money.”

 

Alternative Reading (shorter version)

Luke 16 : 10-13

“Whoever can be trusted in little things can also be trusted in great ones; whoever is dishonest in slight matters will also be dishonest in greater ones. So if you have been dishonest in handling filthy money, who would entrust you with true wealth? And if you have been dishonest with things that are not really yours, who will give you that wealth which is truly your own?”

“No servant can serve two masters. Either he does not like the one and is fond of the other, or he regards one highly and the other with contempt. You cannot give yourself both to God and to money.”

Sunday, 15 September 2013 : 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 50 : 3-4, 12-13, 17 and 19

Have mercy on me, o God, in Your love. In Your great compassion blot out my sin. Wash me thoroughly of my guilt : cleanse me of evil.

Create in me, o God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit. Do not cast me out of Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me.

O Lord, open my lips, and I will declare Your praise. O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart You will not despise.

Monday, 2 September 2013 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear about how Christ was rejected and mocked by His own people, the people of Nazareth His hometown. They rejected Him when He came to proclaim the truth about Himself, as the perfect fulfillment of the prophecy of the prophets of God, including Isaiah, who made a lot of predictions about His coming, which was indeed fulfilled at that moment when Christ proclaimed the very completion of that prophecy to His own townspeople.

Why so? Why did they reject Christ? Why did they reject the very Messiah sent to save them? Precisely because of familiarity and their failure to look beyond what is apparent to them, and the failure to overcome their own prejudices and judgements, which they imposed on Christ without mercy. They knew Him to be the lowly son of a carpenter, though an upright job, but a job of the poor, and therefore, in their minds, prophets, even less so the Messiah could ever come from such backgrounds.

Yet, indeed, the Lord who is King of kings and the Messiah of all mankind, was born of a humble carpenter’s family, of Joseph His foster father, and of Mary, the humble and loving mother He had. Yet, He is truly the Messiah, the Anointed One of God, whom His own people had rejected. Yes, the people of Israel had often rejected their own prophets sent to them by God over the centuries before the coming of Christ, and they turned deaf ears to their warnings and reminders of the need to follow the Law of God and turn from their evil and wicked ways.

The same too therefore happened to Christ, that He was rejected in Nazareth, His own hometown, and even long before that, before His birth, He was rejected everywhere in Bethlehem, because all the inns were full, and He had to be born in a humble and dirty stable. He was rejected even by the people, by the Pharisees and the chief priests who saw Him as a threat to their authority and their power over the people, as a rival.

And just as the people had tortured and slaughtered the prophets of old without mercy, they too slaughtered the Lamb of God, the Messiah who was sent to ensure their own salvation and redemption from death. They had rejected Him for a lowly criminal, Barabbas. They preferred a criminal to a king, a criminal to the One who had to suffer for all of their sins, He who forgave them even fully knowing of their actions in bringing about His suffering.

Yes, brethren, our Lord Jesus bared His love and mercy to all of us, and as He lay hanging on that cross, looking with great love and mercy upon all of His people, even those who called for His death, thos who crucified and tortured Him. Why so? That is because He loves all of us so much, that He does not want us to be separated from Him by our sins, our wickedness, and our unworthiness. He died for us and shed His blood that through that sacrifice, our sins may be erased from us and that we have a new hope for a new life, a new life, eternal life of joy in Christ our Lord.

Just as St. Paul had elaborated in the First Reading that the faithful, both those who are still alive and those who have already passed away when the Lord comes again, will rise with Him into heavenly glory He had promised us who believes in Him and accepted Him as Lord and Saviour. However, the question here is, are we ready? Are we ready to welcome and greet our Saviour, when He comes again, or during our lives? Or are we going to be like the people of Nazareth, the Pharisees and the chief priests in rejecting Him?

It is clear, brethren, that we have need to open our doors for Christ, and to welcome Him into out hearts, that He may remain in us, just as we remain in His love and grace. Do not harden our hearts with prejudice, stubbornness, and fear, as the Lord comes and approaches us, and reveals to us the truth about His glorious and yet humble self. Do not be like the people of Nazareth who dismissed Him merely because he’s familiar to them as a carpenter’s son.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today in our world, there are still many people who do not welcome Christ into their lives, and even many among those are they who call themselves as Christians, which I am sure including some of us here. Let us introspect ourselves and look into ourselves, whether we have kept the doors of our heart locked tight against the love of Jesus.

If the doors are closed, then let us have the courage to open it, let Christ in, bare everything to Him, just as He had bared all of His heart and love as He lay dying on the cross out of His great love for all of us. Let the Lord come into our hearts, healing it of our afflictions, of our wickedness, of our unworthiness, erasing from them the spirit of pride, of wrath, of gluttony, of lust, of greed, of hatred, of desire, and of all evils.

In their place may the Holy Spirit of love, peace, hope, and compassion come and reside within each one of us, that we may be truly and completely transformed into a people of love, a people of hope, and a people of faith, belonging to the Lord our God who will be pleased at our faith and who will raise us up on the last day. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 17 August 2013 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today Christ reminds us that we all need to be like children. Yes, like children, but not in childish ways, but in the purity of their thoughts, their minds and their hearts, and in the true faith that they have in the Lord. Yes, if we notice it well, children, who are pure and uncorrupted, often are able to give their all, their full and undivided attention to the Lord.

This pure faith of children is what we must have in each one of us, the faith untainted by the worry of the world, or the desires of the flesh for the pleasures of this world. That is why we should not reject these children and dismiss them as naive and without wisdom, for indeed, we can learn much even from these little children! And remember that the Lord Himself had said to His disciples, and therefore to us, that those who welcome these little children, also welcome Him. Those who reject them therefore, also reject the Lord.

Compare the faith of the children to that of the people of Israel as we see in the Book of Joshua from the First Reading. Why do you think that Joshua had to repeatedly ask the people to make a choice whether they are to serve the Lord or the pagan gods of Mesopotamia of their ancestors or the pagan gods of the Amorites their neighbours? That was exactly because they have often rebelled against the Lord, in their Exodus from Egypt, when they constantly complained against the Lord their God, tested Him and even worshiped pagan gods of the Midians and their own golden calf, that made God punish them severely.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, their disobedience had brought about their death and condemnation, because they had not kept the faith of their fathers and instead putting their trust in their own power, in their own desires and evils, and in the pagan gods that the Lord had forbid them from worshiping. Yes, their disobedience truly contrasts with the faith of the little children that God had praised and God had sought for, that He also expect from all of us.

Yes, brethren, like the people of Israel, we do have a choice too, either to follow the Lord our God with all our hearts, our minds, and with our full dedication, following faithfully all of His laws and commandments, or to follow ourselves, that is we follow the path of the devil, immersing ourselves in the worldly pleasures and desires, and doing everything that we want, but brought the disgust of the Lord our God?

It is entirely within our own power, within our own conscience to make a stand, to make a choice, and indeed, to make a difference in our own lives. It is not that it is wrong to seek happiness for ourselves, pleasures and joy while we are in this world. But what is important is that we do not become overindulged on them, and lose the true focus of our lives, that is the Lord our God and His love. It is often that we become blind to God and His love, because we are simply too busy with our own selves, with our own desires, to notice Him.

That is how children have the advantage over us, brothers and sisters in Christ, not because they are smarter, and not because they are stronger, or wiser than us, but because they keep the clarity of mind that we often no longer possess. We often worry too much in our daily lives, concerning ourselves with our daily needs, wants, and desires. We often worry about what we are to eat, what we are to have, where are we to go for our outings and many other things that fill up our mind, so much that we no longer have any space reserved for the Lord, not in our minds, not in our hearts.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, after today, do we then resolve to be more like those children in our faith? That is to worry less about this world and be swayed less by the temptations and pleasures of this world, and instead seek the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our focus, and with all our strength? Let us today renew our commitment for Him, and proclaim Him indeed, as the Lord our God, just as the people of Israel had done in Shechem with Joshua, pledging ourselves to only serve Him and worship Him and not any other god.

Yes, not any other god, and these gods are not just the pagan gods of old, but also our modern day ‘gods’, yes, the gods of money, wealth, fame, and many other things that often distract us from our path towards the Lord. Let us resolve to continue our journey of faith towards God and be not swayed by the evils of this world, remaining firm in our faith and dedication towards the Lord and towards His beloved people, our fellow brethren. God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 29 July 2013 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martha (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of St. Martha, the sister of Lazarus, whom Christ had risen from the dead. St. Martha and her sister Mary were faithful followers of Christ, who cared for Him as we have read in the Gospel today. Both of them faithfully took care of the Lord and listened to Him as He went on through His ministry.

Jesus too cared for them, and blessed them with His love. He loved them so much that when Lazarus died, He wept. He was touched by the sisters’ dedication and love for one another, and He Himself is a loving God. In His mercy and love, He had sent His Son Jesus, to be our Saviour, to bring us from the grip of death into a new life in Him, just as He had done with Lazarus, His beloved. Yes, so that we may live, brethren, a new life in God, and a final escape from death and hell that was our fate.

For our sins and faults, and the rebellion of our fathers against the will of God had angered God and made us unworthy of His Holy presence. We had been made dirty by sin and the evils of the world, corrupted by the trickery and temptations of Satan and his agents. For such evils against the holiness of God, there is only one fate for all of us, that is death and eternal punishment in hell, in the fires and darkness prepared for Satan and his angels for eternity, for their own rebellion against God.

But the Lord does not want to leave us to our fate, nor does he want to abandon us in darkness and corruption. He loves all of us, the most beloved and perfect of all His creations, so much that He gave the way to salvation, the escape path from that certain destruction which awaits all of us. He provided the straight way for all of us, the straight highway to salvation, towards reunion with Him in eternal bliss of heaven.

That was why He sent us Jesus, His own Son, the Word of God made flesh, that in His coming to this world, He made it possible for us to be reunited with God, for the Son of God had become one like us, albeit without sin. He had become one of us, of man, the Son of Man, born in the humble stable, but destined for eternal kingship. Yes, brethren, He is to be the King of Israel, the King of all creation, the King of the Universe. In Him all of God’s promises to mankind is fulfilled and perfectly completed. In Him lies all our hope and our future.

Christ is willing to help all of us, because of His love for us. A love so great that with that love He endured the cup of suffering He drank, to suffer on the way to Calvary, throughout His Passion, and to die on the cross in a slow, painful death, rejected by His own people and condemned by the priests and the people themselves, though He is without sin, and have been condemned for a false reason. He offers us this love, to all without exception, that everyone may be saved and have life.

He is our Lord and our Shepherd, our guide through life, that we, who have been lost, the lost sheep, may return towards Him, the Good Shepherd, who had given His all in order to find us and save us. He sought us the lost ones, in the darkest corners of the world, in places of sin, where we dwell. He knocks at the doors of our heart and seek to come in to us, that He may speak in the silence of our hearts.

Yet, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are often occupied with things of the world, with things that distract us from the Lord. We often enclosed ourselves in our space of comfort, that we turned a deaf ear to the urging and the knocking of the Lord on the doors of our hearts. These distractions also include our daily works and businesses, and also our daily concern for things such as food, money, and other things that distract us from the Lord.

That was what happened to St. Martha in what we read from the Gospel of Luke. She loved the Lord indeed and she tried her best to show her love to God by giving the best service available to the Lord in His visit to her house. But she became too preoccupied and engulfed by her works, that she had forgotten what is the most important thing that the Lord wants from her and from all of us, that is love and undivided attention, and total devotion to Him.

It is not wrong to do what St. Martha had done, and indeed she was also sincere in her love for God in doing what she thought was the way for her to serve the Lord. However, what is important is that we must not let our work and busy schedule to subvert our true intention, and especially if we begin to attack others who chose to serve the Lord in another way, as Mary, Martha’s sister had done. Brothers and sisters, do not let our pride to get in our way to the Lord. Pride is our downfall just as it had once brought Lucifer, the fallen angel, down from his glory.

Let us humbly seek the Lord and ask for His mercy, as we approach Him, the merciful and most loving God. Let us listen to Him with all our attention, the way that Mary had done, and give our best to serve the Lord as Martha had done. May the Lord guide us through this life, that we will always walk in His ways and follow Him to the end of that path, that is salvation, when we are once again reunited with the Lord our God who loves us.

St. Martha, pray for us sinners who are still in this world. With all the saints, the holy men and women of God, be with us and protect us, as we walk our path of life, that we will always remain focused on the Lord and do not become distracted by the world and the temptations that Satan and his forces have arrayed against us that we fall. May the Lord bless us all with faith, with hope, and with love, to remain His always, and be victorious in our struggles against the evil one. God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 29 July 2013 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martha (Gospel Reading)

John 11 : 19-27

Many Jews had come to Martha and Mary, after the death of their brother, to comfort them.

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him, while Mary remained sitting in the house. And she said to Jesus, “If You had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.” Jesus said, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha replied, “I know that he will rise in the resurrection, at the last day.” But Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, shall live. Whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Martha then answered, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, He who is coming into the world.”

 

Alternative reading

 

Luke 10 : 38-42

As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He entered a village, and a woman called Martha welcomed Him into her house. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet to listen to His words.

Martha, meanwhile, was busy with all the serving and finally she said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work? Tell her to help me!”

But the Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you worry and are troubled about many things, whereas only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Sunday, 21 July 2013 : 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we heard today of two stories which in both involve receiving the Lord into one’s home and showing their acceptance to the coming of the Lord. Abraham in the first reading welcomed the Lord who passed by his tent, and gave Him a meal and offering. In the Gospel, Martha and Mary, the family of Lazarus, welcomed Jesus the Son of God and Messiah into their house. Both involved hospitality of the hosts and how they react to the coming of the Lord to their humble abodes.

Abraham recognised the Lord and welcomed him into his tent, giving the best he had for the Lord to eat, as an offering of his love and his heart for the Lord. Martha and Mary also welcomed Christ into their home, giving their best to serve Him and made Him at home. But here comes the difference, highlighted in the case between Martha and Mary, in how they give their service to the Lord.

Martha cooked and prepared many food for Jesus, to serve Him good meals and good food, but she ended up being absorbed so much into her preparation and her work, that she forgot what the Lord truly wanted from her. She became engulfed in the world and in her work so much, that she forgot about love, about her own love for God. That is what the Lord truly desired from her, and indeed, from everyone in this world, all of us.

Mary gave her love and full attention to Christ, giving all her heart to Him, that she was truly focused and attentive to all the words that left His mouth, listening to the words of salvation, the Good News. The same had been done by Abraham, giving his obedience and full attention to the Lord, as He came to proclaim the words of His promise, His covenant, proven through the gift of his son, Isaac, through his wife, Sarah.

The same too then is expected of us. We too should give all our minds, our hearts, our being, and with all our strengths, to God and dedicate ourselves fully and entirely to Him. God our Lord is a loving God, and He cares for all of us, until He even gave His own Son, Himself, for the sake of all of us, that we may have life in us, and do not have to suffer our eternal punishment of death, that is our faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us not lose our sight on the Lord, our one and true God, the God who created us, God who gave us life, and God who granted us this world that we may live in prosperity and happiness, and most importantly, to follow in His ways, that we can share the happiness that we have in us, with one another, that together, we may be saved, saved from the tyranny of death and evil, and be freed into new life in Christ.

Let us renew our faith and our love for God, dedicating our hearts as true offering for Him. He does not desire our sacrifices and prayers, of endless litanies made without meaning, of gifts made without love, but He desires truly our love, our repentant heart, seeking always for His mercy, the desire, the strong and endless desire to be reunited with the One God who loves us.

In Christ lies salvation and hope, and in Him lies all the fulfillment, in all its perfection, of God’s grand plan to save mankind and all creation, ever since Satan snatched them from Him at the time of creation, by his lies to Adam and Eve, the first mankind. The grand plan had been in motion for countless years and a long time, ever since creation, through Abraham, whom God promised that salvation for mankind would come through him and his descendants, and ultimately was perfectly fufilled in Jesus, the descendant of Abraham, of Adam and Eve, and the descendant of David, who inherited his kingdom, and made it into an everlasting kingdom of God.

Christ gave Himself up for our sake, that all of us can share in His glory upon His glorious resurrection, and that we will receive life eternal as we are brought to our rightful places in heaven, at the side of the Lord, God who cares for us and gave it all for our sake. It will not be easy to follow Christ, as we will be rejected as the world had rejected the Lord. What is important is that we do not go astray from our path, and remain faithful to Christ our Lord, through our actions, our deeds, and our words.

Let us not be distracted by the world and its offers of pleasure and sin, and not to forget the Lord and His love and kindness. Let us be focused on the Lord and offer Him our greatest love, out of our sincere and repentant heart, just as what Abraham and Mary had done, that the Lord will always be in our minds, our hearts at all times, and therefore we too, will always remain in the Lord.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, open our hearts, open our minds, and let the Lord to come into us, dwell within us, as the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the Temple of God’s residence. We receive the Lord regularly in the Eucharist, and we accept Him into our hearts. That is why it is important that we remain focused at all times on the Lord, so that we will not be led astray by the temptations of this world.

Keep the Lord’s commandments of love, and practice our faith with devotion, loving our God with all our strength, in worship and praise, in the Mass, and in our daily lives, and love our brethren, especially those with great needs, through our actions, our service to the less fortunate, and through our deeds that bring happiness and love to those who lie in sorrow and those who are unloved.

Be strong, brothers and sisters, and may the blessing of the Lord our God, God who came down for our sake, for our salvation, the Lord of Abraham, the God of our fathers, be with us, and remain within us, giving us His love and light, to be shared among all the nations. God bless us all. Amen.