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

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 55 : 1-11

Come here, all you who are thirsty, come to the water! All who have no money, come! Yes, without money and at no cost, buy and drink wine and milk. Why spend money on what is not food and labour for what does not satisfy? Listen to Me, and you will eat well; you will enjoy the richest of fare.

Incline your ear and come to Me; listen, that your soul may life. I will make with you an everlasting covenant. I will fulfill in you My promises to David.

See, I have given him for a witness to the nations, a leader and commander of the people. Likewise you will summon a nation unknown to you, and nations that do not know you will come hurrying to you for the sake of YHVH your God, the Holy One of Israel, for He has promoted you.

Seek YHVH while He may be found; call to Him while He is near. Let the wicked abandon his way, let him forsake his thoughts, let him turn to YHVH for He will have mercy, for our God is generous in forgiving.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, My ways are not your ways, says YHVH. For as the heavens are above the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts above your thoughts.

As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return till they have watered the earth, making it yield seed for the sower and food for others to eat, so is My word that goes forth out of My mouth : it will not return to Me idle, but it shall accomplish My will, the purpose for which it has been sent.

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

Liturgical Colour : Green

Nehemiah 8 : 1-4a, 5-6, 7b-12

In the seventh month, all the people gathered as one man in the square before the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which YHVH  had given to Israel.

Ezra brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all the children who could understand what was being read. It was the first day of the seventh month. Ezra read the book before all of them from early morning until midday in the square facing the Water Gate; and all who heard were attentive to the Book of the Law.

Ezra, the teacher of the Law, stood on a wooden platform built for that occasion. Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was in a higher place; and when he opened it, all the people stood. Ezra blessed YHVH, the great God; and all the people lifted up their hands and answered, “Amen! Amen!” And they bowed their heads to the ground.

The Law was explained to the people who were standing. They read from the Book of the Law of God, clarifying and interpreting the meaning, so that everyone might understand  what they were hearing.

Then Ezra, the teacher of the Law, said to the people, “This day is dedicated to YHVH, your God, so do not be sad or weep.” He said this because all wept when they heard the reading of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go and eat rich foods, drink sweet wine and share with him who has nothing prepared. This day is dedicated to the Lord, so do not be sad. The joy of YHVH is our strength.”

The Levites also calmed the people down, saying, “Do not weep. This day is a festival day. Do not be sad.” And the people went their way to eat, drink and share, and they had a great feast, because they had understood the words that had been proclaimed to them.

Friday, 6 September 2013 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 5 : 33-39

Some people asked Jesus, “The disciples of John fast often and say long prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees. Why is it that Your disciples eat and drink?” Then Jesus said to them, “You cannot make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them. But later the bridegroom will be taken from them, and they will fast in those days.”

Jesus also told them this parable : “No one tears a piece from a new coat to put it on an old one; otherwise the new will be torn, and the piece taken from the new will not match the old. No one puts new wine into old wineskins, otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed as well. But new wine must be put into fresh skins. Yet no one who has tasted old wine is eager to drink new wine, but says, ‘The old is good.’”

Saturday, 3 August 2013 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Leviticus 25 : 1, 8-17

YHVH spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai : “When seven sabbaths of years have passed, that is, seven times seven years, there shall be the time of the seven weeks of years, that is forty-nine years. Then on the tenth day of the seventh month sound the trumpet loudly. On this Day of Atonement sound the trumpet all through the land.”

“Keep holy the fiftieth year and proclaim freedom for all the inhabitants of the land. It shall be a jubilation year for you when each one shall recover his property and go back to his family. In this fiftieth year, your year of Jubilee, you shall neither sow nor reap the aftergrowth, nor gather the grapes from the uncultivated vines. This Jubilee year shall be holy for you, and you shall eat what the field yields of itself without cultivation.”

“In this year of Jubilee each of you shall recover his own property. When you sell something to your neighbour or buy something from him; do not wrong one another. According to the number of years after the Jubilee, you shall buy it from your neighbour and according to the number of years left for harvesting crops he shall sell to you.”

“When the years are many the price shall be greater and when the years are few the price shall be less, for it is the number of crops that he is selling to you. So you shall not wrong one another but you shall fear your God, for I am YHVH, your God.”

Saturday, 6 July 2013 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Matthew 9 : 14-17

Then the disciples of John came to Jesus with the question, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast on many occasions, but not Your disciples?”

Jesus answered them, “How can you expect wedding guests to mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The time will come, when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

“No one patches an old coat with a piece of unshrunken cloth, for the patch will shrink and tear an even bigger hole in the coat. In the same way, you do not put new wine in old wineskins. If you do, the wineskins will burst and the wine will be spilt. No, you put new wine in fresh skins; then both are preserved.”

Sunday, 2 June 2013 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate a great mystery of our faith, that is the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, or Corpus Christi, in which God gave His own flesh and blood for us to consume, that He may live in us, and we in Him, that we can gain eternal life through Him. He gave up Himself that we may live, that we have a share in His death and His glorious resurrection.

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist is the centre to our faith, and the Real Presence of Christ our Lord in the consecrated bread and wine is what makes our faith truly Catholic. That is because we believe that in the Holy Mass, whenever the priest offers the bread and wine and consecrate it before the Lord, in the same words that Christ had used on the Last Supper, the bread and the wine truly become the Real Body and Blood of our Lord, and not just a purely symbolic or memorial reenactment of the Last Supper, but a real transformation of the material of the bread and wine, into the Body of Christ.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, what we receive in the Eucharist is the real Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave us His Body to eat and His Blood to drink, and therefore, as the Eucharist is divine, being the essence of God Himself, we must treat it with the greatest deference and respect. For this is the God who came down to us as man like us, and died for us, by shedding His blood, the Blood of the Lamb of God, that all mankind may be saved.

The Lamb of God had been slaughtered, and He did not resist, nor did He protest against His unjust sentence of death, even though He is without sin, because without His death, without His sacrifice, as the only completely perfect sacrificial lamb, there is nothing that can match the severity of all the sins of all mankind combined together. Only Christ, God incarnate as man, has this power and authority over sin, and by His sacrifice, we are made pure again, white as snow.

But Christ did not give us His Body and His Blood in the Eucharist without reason, ever since He gave His disciples the first Eucharist in the Last Supper, and as He had always mentioned, that those who eat that Bread, the Bread of Life, and drink from the cup of salvation, will gain eternal life, because Christ Himself would dwell within all of us, and we would then have a share in His glorious resurrection, and therefore eligible for salvation. Only if we accept Christ, live according to His commandments, and receive Him in the Eucharist, then we gain the fullness of salvation.

As Christ would dwell within all of us who receive Him in the Holy Eucharist, our bodies must be worthy of Christ, of God who is good and perfect. We may be lowly and weak mortals, but as long as we keep our faith in God and strive to do only what is good in the eyes of the Lord, we are worthy of Him. Remember the saying, that our body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit? That is because the Lord Himself through His Real Presence in the Eucharist has been willing to come to us, through the bread and wine transformed that we consume, that He would then dwell in us forever more.

That is why, we must not defile our bodies and minds with sin and corruption of evil, because our very body itself has become the very Temple of God, where the Lord resides, just very much like the Temple of Jerusalem, at the time of King Solomon, when God was willing to come down and reside in the Temple built by Solomon, and His presence overwhelmed all the people who witnessed it, so great is His majesty and power.

The Lord had decreed that no filth of evil and sin should enter the Temple, and there were large dedicated places where the people can wash and purify themselves prior to entering the Holy Temple, so that they would not defile the place physically and spiritually with the filth of their sin. It is kind of parallel to how we purify ourselves with the holy water as we enter the church building at the holy water font, and seal ourselves in purity, with the Name of the Holy Trinity and the sign of the victorious cross, in which we rebuke evil and reject Satan, and therefore, would then enter the holy place of God and preventing us from defiling that Holy Temple.

The same therefore, should apply to all of us. Ever since the Lord is willing to dwell within all of us, through His Real Presence in His Most Holy Body and Blood, we have become the new Tabernacle, the new Temple of the Lord, each one of us, who had been baptised, and who had received the Eucharist in good standing in the faith through the Church. We must therefore respect the same with regards to ensuring the purity of our own beings, that we, as the Temple of God, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, will not be defiled by our human weaknesses and sin.

St. Paul, in the same book as our second reading today, in his first letter to the people of Corinth, confirm this, that our bodies are indeed the Temple of the Holy Spirit, as the Holy Spirit also dwell within all of us who have received the Spirit, ever since the Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles in Pentecost. Thus, our bodies became ever greater in terms of the need to maintain its purity, against the evils of the world, and against the temptations of the evil one through worldly pleasures and desires, that corrupts and bring darkness to our otherwise pure and holy Temple, where God resides.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, our God has indeed dwelled within each one of us, and this is symbolised by yet another great event in the history of salvation, when Christ gave up His Spirit and died on Calvary, when He finally shed His own life and blood, for the redemption of all mankind. At that moment, the veil that separated the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant and the Lord Himself supposedly reside, from the rest of the Temple in Jerusalem, tore in two pieces from top to bottom, at the moment when Christ died on the cross.

That moment, when the veil was torn, was a defining moment. It symbolises that the Lord is no longer limited to just that holy space within the Temple in Jerusalem, as He had been, ever since He chose to dwell at the Temple, since the time of the King Solomon of Israel. Through the tearing of that veil, God made His new covenant, which He proclaimed in the Last Supper, complete, with all mankind.

That new covenant is the redemption offered by the death of Christ on the cross, through which we receive His Body and His Blood, given freely to all of us. So that, ever since, Christ, who is God, dwells within all of us who receive Him in the Eucharist, ever since the time of the Apostles, who was commanded by Christ Himself to continue the celebration of the Eucharist, in memorial of His Sacrifice on Calvary.

But beware, brothers and sisters in Christ, this is where exists a danger in misunderstanding the meaning of Christ, when He said about the Eucharist as a memorial. Many wrongly interpreted it as the sign that the celebration of the Eucharist is nothing more than a memorial, a symbolic celebration and imitation of the real sacrifice on Calvary. That the bread and wine that we consume are mere bread and wine, and not the Body and Blood of Christ.

Beware, brethren, that we do not fall into confusion and falsehoods spread by the evil one. For within that Eucharist, within the bread and the wine, Christ is present, really present, in His complete being, and that is what we call and know as the Real Presence of God in the Eucharist. We believe that our priests, with the same authority that Christ had given to the Apostles, in the consecration of the offerings of bread and wine, bring about the complete transformation of that bread and that wine, to become the Most Precious Body and the Most Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yes, some of us may ask, why then the bread still look like bread, and the wine still look like wine? And there seems to be no change in the physical appearance or substance of the bread and wine? That is exactly the wonder of the mystery of our faith in Christ. Because, yes, the bread and wine’s outside appearance remains that of physical bread and wine in shape, but it has in fact been completely transformed into the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, in what we call as transubstantiation, because there is a real change or ‘trans’ in the substance of the bread and the wine, into the flesh and blood of our Lord.

Remember! That Christ Himself often repeated that those who did not partake in His flesh and His blood, those who did not receive His body and blood, will have no part in Him, and will not have eternal life. Only those who willingly, and in worthy state receive the Lord into themselves, through the Eucharist, will gain the eternal rewards from Christ, that is eternal life and glory with Him in heaven. That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is very important that we take the Eucharist seriously, that from now on, we begin to participate more in the Mass and in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, that we truly understand our faith, and why we have to regularly receive our Lord in the Eucharist.

The Body and the Blood of Christ, each is Christ complete in themselves, that means, if we only receive the Body, that is the ‘bread’ or the Blood, that is the ‘wine’ we do not receive half of Christ, but in fact, we have received the fullness of Christ in each of them. When we receive either the Body of Christ or His Blood, we receive Christ in His fullness, in His glorious majesty and power, into ourselves. That is why, brethren, we must be worthy! We must be worthy to have the Lord dwell within us, as His Temple!

Remember that if we willingly and knowingly receive the Lord when we are in the state of mortal sin, we will be damned instead of being saved, because we did not keep our house in order, and did not receive the Lord properly and worthily. That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, keep our bodies, our Temple of the Holy Spirit, away from fornication and corruption of sin. Keep ourselves pure, as best as we are able to, and welcome Christ every time we receive Him in the Eucharist, that He will see that our ‘house’ that is our heart, in good order, and therefore reward us with His grace and blessings.

If we had sinned and in the state of mortal sin, which prevents us from truly accepting the Lord into ourselves, into our defiled Temple, that is our being, we must first abstain from receiving the Eucharist, from receiving our Lord. What we must do is indeed, first to ask the Lord for His mercy and forgiveness, and seek a priest to be forgiven from our sins. Remember that to our priests, God has given the authority to absolve sins, if only we ourselves are humble and willing enough, to admit our own sinful nature, and seek to return once again to God’s love and embrace. Only once we have been absolved, then we can receive the Lord again, and He will once again dwell within us, transforming us from inside with His love.

Let us reflect on the mystery of our faith, that is the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ on this sacred occasion, that from now on, we will increase our dedication for our Lord, really present in the Blessed Sacrament, in the form of His Body and His Blood, which He had given freely, so that we may live, and we may share in Him, the fruits of eternal life and salvation. God bless us all, now and forever more. Amen!

(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 30 March 2013 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Fifth Reading)

Isaiah 55 : 1-11

Come here, all you who are thirsty, come to the water! All who have no money, come! Yes, without money and at no cost, buy and drink wine and milk. Why spend money on what is not food and labour for what does not satisfy? Listen to Me, and you will eat well; you will enjoy the richest of fare.

Incline your ear and come to Me; listen, that your soul may life. I will make with you an everlasting covenant. I will fulfill in you My promises to David.

See, I have given him for a witness to the nations, a leader and commander of the people. Likewise you will summon a nation unknown to you, and nations that do not know you will come hurrying to you for the sake of YHVH your God, the Holy One of Israel, for He has promoted you.

Seek YHVH while He may be found; call to Him while He is near. Let the wicked abandon his way, let him forsake his thoughts, let him turn to YHVH for He will have mercy, for our God is generous in forgiving.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, My ways are not your ways, says YHVH. For as the heavens are above the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts above your thoughts.

As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return till they have watered the earth, making it yield seed for the sower and food for others to eat, so is My word that goes forth out of My mouth : it will not return to Me idle, but it shall accomplish My will, the purpose for which it has been sent.

(Holy Thursday) Thursday, 28 March 2013 : Mass of the Lord’s Supper – Cena Domini, Holy Week (Second Reading)

1 Corinthians 11 : 23-26

This is the tradition of the Lord that I received and that in my turn I have handed on to you; the Lord Jesus, on the night that He was delivered up, took bread and, after giving thanks, broke it, saying, ‘This is My Body which is broken for you; do this in memory of Me.”

In the same manner, taking the cup after the supper, He said, “This cup is the new Covenant in My Blood. Whenever you drink it, do it in memory of Me.” So, then, whenever you eat of this bread and drink from this cup, you are proclaiming the death of the Lord until He comes.

Thursday, 14 March 2013 : 4th Week of Lent (Scripture Reflection)

It is not easy to believe in God. Too often we are distracted by other things, by temptations, and those that offer items that seems to be better than what God can offer. Many would think, why do we believe in God, who we can’t see and who we can’t touch? Is it not better to put our faith in something more tangible? Something that is closer to us?

That is the exact argument of the people of Israel, when they thought that God has abandoned them, on the Mount Horeb, when He called Moses up the mountain for a long time. The people of Israel chose to turn to worldly god, the golden calf, because it can be touched, it can be seen, and it can be said as ‘present’ among the people of Israel. Then God was angry, and He wanted to wipe this rebellious people out of the face of the earth, but Moses begged God for their sake and God relented.

How is this then different from what is happening in our world today? Many of us today also have our own false gods, not in the form of a golden calf, but in the form of the distractions that we have in our world today. From materialism, consumerism, emphasis on wealth and affluence, worldly power, and many other different forms of temptations.

With all these things surrounding us, we become less perceptive of the Lord God, and His presence in our world today. The attention which we should have given Him alone, is now divided towards the things that keep us away from His love. These are the golden calves that we have to face in our lives. Those false gods that have kept us away from enjoying the fullness of God’s love and graces.

That is why, at the time of Jesus, the people of Israel have failed to open their eyes and see, and even if their eyes were open, they could not see, because their hardened hearts have kept the Lord away from them. For Jesus, the Son of God, had been sent into this world, so that through Him, all the works and love of God will be made manifest to all mankind. Those who believe in Him and believe in the prophets who proclaimed His coming would believe, but many would not.

That is because for the many people, their pride and their arrogance had become their golden calves, that prevented them from seeing the Lord in truth, and instead accused and mocked Him. They preferred something tangible, like miracles and wonders, which they can see and believe in, so that they will worship Jesus as their Lord. But they have failed to realise that the true mission of the Lord is not such, and as we knew, God has shown many signs and others through His prophets before the comng of Jesus, but yet they have failed to listen.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us gathered here today have the benefit of listening the word of God, through the Holy Scripture, and through our priests, who teach us about the Lord and His mission in this world. And to all of us who had been baptised in the faith, we all have been promised great inheritance in heaven, if we remain faithful in God.

However, let us not be complacent, and let us strive to be not like the people of Israel, that is to remain faithful to God, and to turn not onto the false gods, in manner similar to that of the worship of the golden calf by most of the people of Israel. We should distance ourselves from these false gods, and began the path towards renewal in our faith towards our God.

To do that is to first be humble and be ready to lower ourselves before God, and not to blind ourselves with pride and arrogance, that with humility and faith in God, we will be able to see and recognise the Lord and His works in our daily lives. How to do this? None other than to have a constant prayer life, to pray continuously at all times, that God will empower us with faith in Him, that we can remain strong despite all the temptations the world places in our path.

And perhaps the best way is so that we will not be tempted to abandon God for something more ‘manifest’ and ‘tangible’ as in the false gods and the golden calf of Israel, is to make God truly manifest in our lives as well. There is nowhere better to make the Lord manifest, other than through the proper and solemn celebration of the Holy Mass. For in the Mass, we take part in the celebration of the Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, in which the bread and wine are truly transformed into the very Precious Body and Blood of our Saviour, that the Lord becomes manifest, and this manifested Lord is who we receive into ourselves when we receive Holy Communion.

This is why it is important to have a proper and solemn celebration of the Mass, tainted as little as possible from external and worldly distractions, such as loud music, improper behaviour and conduct, and even the way we dress is important, since coming to the Mass is like coming to the Banquet of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Master of the Banquet, who is manifest in the Mass. As we are coming to be at God’s banquet, then we truly should prepare ourselves well, dress well and appropriately, and behave properly.

Remember the term ‘Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi’, which is when translated means, the way we worship determines the kind of faith that we have in us, and the faith that we have determines the kind of life that we will lead. If we do not approach the worship of the Mass with proper decorum and behaviour, how are we then to have a good faith in our Lord, who is indeed truly made manifest in the Mass through the Eucharist? Then if we have no faith, or little faith, our lives too will be barren, and we will be easily swayed and persuaded by the temptations of this world, to distance ourselves from our God.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today, let us pray that we will be strengthened by God in our resolve to know Him better, to love Him more, and to have greater faith in Him. That we will be able to lead a strong prayerful life, that is supported by active participation in the Holy Mass, that we finally will know that we serve the living God, made manifest in the Eucharist, which He gives us to eat and drink, that we may have a part in His salvific mission. Amen.

Monday, 11 March 2013 : 4th Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

John 4 : 43-54

When the two days were over, Jesus left for Galilee. Jesus Himself said that no prophet is recognised in his own country. Yet the Galileans welcomed Him when He arrived, because all the things which He had done in Jerusalem during the Festival, and which they had seen. For they, too, had gone to the feast.

Jesus went back to Cana of Galilee, where He had changed the water into wine. At Capernaum there was an official, whose son was ill, and when he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and asked Him to come and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.

Jesus said, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe!” The official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” And Jesus replied, “Go, your son lives!” The man had faith in the word that Jesus spoke to him, and went his way. As he was approaching his house, his servants met him, and gave him the good news. “Your son has recovered!”

So he asked them at what hour the child began to recover, and they said to him, “The fever left him yesterday, at about one o’ clock in the afternoon.” And the father realised that, that was the time when Jesus had told him, “Your son lives!” And he became a believer, he and all his family.

Jesus performed this second miraculous sign when He returned from Judea to Galilee.