(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.