(Easter Sunday) Sunday, 27 March 2016 : Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, Holy Week, Easter Octave (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 10 : 34a, 37-43

Peter then spoke to them, “No doubt you have heard of the event that occured throughout the whole country of the Jews, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism John preached. You know how God anointed Jesus the Nazarean with Holy Spirit and power.

He went about doing good and healing all who were under the devil’s power, because God was with Him; we are witnesses of all that He did throughout the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem itself. Yet they put Him to death by hanging Him on a wooden cross.

But God raised Him to life on the third day and let Him manifest Himself, not to all the people, but to the witnesses that were chosen beforehand by God – to us who ate and drank with Him after His resurrection from death. And He commanded us to preach to the people and to bear witness that He is the One appointed by God to judge the living and the dead.

All the prophets say of Him, that everyone who believes in Him has forgiveness of sins through His Name.

Thursday, 17 April 2014 : Chrism Mass on Maundy Thursday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Revelations 1 : 5-8

And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has washed away our sins with His own blood, making us a kingdom and priests for God His Father, to Him be the glory and power forever and ever. Amen.

See He comes with the clouds and everyone will see Him, even those who pierced Him; on His account all the nations of the earth will beat His breast. Yes, it will be so.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, He who is, who was and who is to come : the Master of the universe.

Thursday, 3 April 2014 : 4th Week of Lent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s reading from the Scripture, we found that our Lord and God hates sin and the spirit of disobedience. And this was what we witnessed, as the people of Israel sinned against God. They refused to obey the Lord and believe in Him fully without reservations, even after what they had witnessed in the Ten Plagues and the opening of the Red Sea which paved the way to their liberation from Egypt and their slavery there.

That was why God was angry and wrathful, not just because He despises sin in any form, which the people of Israel clearly committed in their debauchery, with the gold and riches they took from Egypt, engaging in lustful revelries and made for themselves a god out of that gold, the golden calf. God loves all of His children, but He also despises sin.

Yet, this is were we are once again reaffirmed of the love and care which our Lord and God has for us. He loves us even more than He hates our sins, and what is this proof? Moses, the servant of God would know of this love, because he saw what God is like and he knew of His will and His plans for mankind, which would involve coming down by Himself, to be the very One to save His people from eternal damnation.

Yes, that proof of God’s love and eternal commitment to us is Jesus Christ, the Son of God and One of the Holy Trinity, the very Word who came to be incarnate to the flesh, and He is the living and eternal proof of God’s love for all of us without exception. Everyone is equal in the eyes of the Lord and they are all equal in God’s favour, except for sin which keeps us apart from the fullness of His grace.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord gave His best to us all, and He did not even hold back His own Son from our reach. Instead, He gave us the One through whom He can directly reach out to us, and similarly, from us to reach out to Him, our loving God and Father. And in Jesus we found the perfection of mankind in love of God, which we all should aspire to.

Yes, brethren, that is in essence because Jesus came into this world not for some meaningless purposes or without any clear goal. On the contrary, Jesus came into this world and gave Himself and His own life, so that we may be freed from the bonds of sin that kept us away from God, but also so that in His examples, we may be made whole and know what God expects from us, just as Jesus Himself had done.

Jesus was the embodiment of the perfect Man, the One who followed the Lord and obeyed Him in the complete and unadulterated fullness of the Law of God, desiring only to serve the Lord and His people, unlike the people of Jesus’ time, especially the Pharisees, who outwardly were very pious, but in fact were concerned and occupied with their own worldly desires and concerns that they forgot to keep the Lord in themselves.

The key message that we ought to bring out of today’s Scripture readings is that God loves us, and He would stop at nothing to help us and to embrace us, giving us His divine mercy and compassion, through none other than Jesus His Son, that we may have hope. So, just as God has loved us with all of His heart and being, shall we not then do the same?

That is the challenge posed to all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ, that we ought to give ourselves and our own love for God, just as He had loved us first. What we usually did was in fact to spurn this love and opportunity which He had given us, and for many, it was not until too late that they realised how much God actually loved and cared for them, because they were too busy with their own human affairs and the affairs of the world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us from now on therefore begin to change our attitude, if our attitude towards God had not been right. Let us all embrace the love God had for us and resolve to love Him back as much as possible. Let us not spurn the great offer which God has given us, in Jesus His Son. In Him only lies the salvation and hope of the world.

May Almighty God bless us, forgive us from our sinfulness, open our hearts that we may ‘see’ His love, understand it, and embrace it to be our own dedication of love, to Him who had loved us first. God be with us all. Amen.

 

Monday, 3 February 2014 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, and St. Ansgar, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Bishops)

Mark 5 : 1-20

They arrived at the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gerasenes. No sooner did Jesus leave the boat than He was met by a man with evil spirits, who had come from the tombs. He lived among the tombs, and no one could restrain him, even with a chain.

He had often been bound with fetters and chains, but he would pull the chains apart and smash the fetters, and no one had the strength to control him. Night and day he stayed among the tombs on the hillsides, and was continually screaming, and beating himself with stones.

When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell at his feet, and cried with a loud voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? For God’s sake, I beg you, do not torment me!”

He said this, because Jesus had commanded, “Come out of the man, evil spirit!” And when Jesus asked the evil spirit, “What is your name?” It replied, “Legion is my name, for we are many.” And it kept begging Jesus, not to send them out of that region.

Now a great herd of pigs was feeding on the hillside, and the evil spirits begged Him, “Send us to the pigs, and let us go into them.” So Jesus let them go. The evil spirits came out of the man and went into the pigs, and immediately the herd rushed down the cliff, and all were drowned in the lake.

The herdsmen fled, and reported this in the town and in the countryside, so all the people came to see what had happened. They came to Jesus, and saw the man freed of the evil spirits sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the same man who had been possessed by the legion.

They were afraid. And when those who had seen it, told what had happened to the man and to the pigs, the people begged Jesus to leave their neighbourhood. When Jesus was getting into the boat, the man, who had been possessed, begged to stay with Him.

Jesus would not let him, and said, “Go home to your people, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.” So he went throughout the country of Decapolis, telling everyone how much Jesus had done for him; and all the people were astonished.

Saturday, 11 January 2014 : Saturday after the Epiphany (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 22-30

After this, Jesus went into the territory of Judea with His disciples. He stayed there with them and baptised. John was also baptising in Aenon, near Salim, where water was plentiful; people came to him and were baptised. This happened before John was put in prison.

Now John’s disciples had been questioned by a Jew about spiritual cleansing, so they came to John and said, “Rabbi, the One who was with you across the Jordan, and about whom you spoke favourably, is now baptising, and all are going to Him.”

John answered, “No one can receive anything, except what has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before Him.’ Only the bridegroom has the bride; but the friend of the bridegroom stands by and listens, and rejoices to hear the bridegroom’s voice. My joy is now full.”

“It is necessary that He increase but that I decrease.”

Friday, 10 January 2014 : Friday after the Epiphany (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we see the power and authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God and Saviour of the world. Jesus needs no fame or human praise, because in Him lies all the glory and all praise, as the Lord of all. He sought not popularity or human praise, by doing His miracles, but He did them because of His love for us all, for all mankind.

Yes, brethren, in the past few days we have heard from the Scriptures how Jesus fed the multitudes of more than five thousand men not counting women and children, and how Jesus healed the sick, the lepers and those with illness, restoring them to full health and show the love that God has for them all. He did these to show mankind that He cared for them, and wanting them to be perfectly cured of their maladies, most important of which, is the malady of the soul.

Yes, sin, the malady of the soul. Sin tainted mankind with impurity and unworthiness, which separated us from God. Sin made us unable to comprehend God’s love for us. And it is sin that our Lord came down to us, in order to correct and address this problem, this darkness that prevented us from seeing and living in the Light of God.

The Lord had no need of advertisement to promote Himself, for the Holy Spirit testified for Him, and the people could see that He is One with authority and power. It is clear enough that no one is like Him, and He is not a mere man or a mere prophet of God, for He is the Son of God Most High endowed with power, and with the authority over all diseases and illnesses, as well as over all the forces of this world.

Yet many people continued to refuse to believe in Him or doubt in His presence. They put their trust more in human and worldly powers rather than in the Lord. The devil is hard at work everyday to convince the people that his way is better and more appealing than that of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

And yet, the path of the evil one is death and destruction, while the path of the Lord is life and true joy. Only in the Lord can we find the source of life, just as St. John the Evangelist told us in his letter. True life and hope for life is not in us if we do not believe in God and His Son, or put our trust in Him, the Lord of life. Jesus made it plainly enough throughout His teachings.

Jesus repeated the words eternal life very often in His ministry, and a lot of His teachings revolved on, and focused on the fact that whoever believes in Him and has Him in themselves, shall not suffer death or the consequences of death, but will gain the eternal reward of life with God. He did not make this promise lightly, for He truly imparted to all of us, as He had promised, with His own Body and Blood, sacrificed for our sake and offered freely to us.

Yes, those of us who receive the Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist and believe in Him wholeheartedly, is assured of life in God. Brethren in Christ, it is important that while we live in this world, that we do not get too engrossed with the world and forget what the Lord had asked of us. Yes, because believing in God is not merely just making promises or empty proclamation of the faith. If we believe in God, we must show it concretely through our actions, words and deeds.

Therefore brethren, let us now truly profess our faith in the Lord, that we show Him true faith and dedication, not just in words but also in action. Let the Lord see that we are truly His faithful and loving children, and that we reject the lies of the evil one. May the Lord therefore, then bless us with the abundance of blessings and graces, that in Him, we may find the joy of eternal life in true happiness. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 27 December 2013 : Feast of St. John the Evangelist, Apostle (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if yesterday we celebrate the feast of St. Stephen the protomartyr, the first of the martyrs of the faith, then today we celebrate the feast of one of the four writers of the Holy Gospels, that is St. John the Evangelist, the youngest of the disciples of the Lord and the only one who did not die of martyrdom.

St. John the Evangelist was the brother of St. James the Lesser, another of the Twelve Apostles. They were the sons of Zebedee, and they were once fishermen at the Lake of Galilee. They were called from their former lives and profession by Christ, to be His followers, and were selected to be among the Twelve He had made to be His Apostles.

St. John the Evangelist was one of the closest disciples to Jesus besides that of St. Peter and his own brother, St. James. They were the three who went up the mountain with Jesus and witnessed His glorious Transfiguration. St. John the Evangelist was also the one whom the Lord entrusted His own mother, Mary, to his care. He was the first to believe in the resurrection after Mary Magdalene had reported to the disciples that the tomb of the Lord was open and the Body was missing. That was the Gospel we had heard today just now.

St. John the Evangelist was the one whom Jesus mentioned that he would not ‘die’ before he saw all the things that the Lord had told His disciples, about the things that are about to happen. The disciples were annoyed at this because they failed to understand what the Lord had truly meant with what He said. Jesus said that to foretell what St. John would do to bring glory to God, that is through the Revelation he was to receive.

It was in that revelation, about what is going to happen at the end of everything, when the Lord will come again in His Second Coming, to judge the living and the dead, that John saw all that Jesus had foretold, and he died after he had seen all these visions, and shared them to all of us through his writings, both in the Book of the Revelation and in the Gospel that he wrote.

The Gospel of John is different from the other three Gospels in that it is unique in terms of its mystic and spiritual nature, with more difficult concepts and mystery as compared to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, which spoke in more historical terms and in a more chronological way, unlike the Gospel of John. But if we are able to read and understand what was written by John in his Gospel, our faith and our lives will be made considerably richer.

That is because John had been endowed with the gift of great faith, and when he wrote the Gospel, he did so with great zeal for the Lord and showed the faith to us, in all of its complexity, and yet at the same time bared the entire truth of the Lord to us. He started his Gospel with none other than the centre of the very Creed of our faith, that Jesus is God, and He is the Word of God incarnate into flesh, and He came in order to dwell among us, and bring us to complete perfection in Him.

Indeed, for those who lack the faith and who had not practiced the faith, these may seem very difficult to understand, to the point of impossibility. But that was what John made clear in his own Gospel, that the Lord is Lord, and He has one, singular mission in this world, that as we celebrate Christmas at the moment, we must never, ever forget.

That Christ who was Divine incarnate into Man, was born into this world that He might die for the sake of us all, that He might bear all the burdens of the sins of the world, the sins and taints of our rebelliousness against the will of God. Christ is the Lord, and He alone has the power and authority, to be able to liberate us from the enthrallment under sin and the power of Satan. This is what John made clear throughout his Gospel, by showing what Jesus had done, and His ultimate purpose on the cross.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we too have been given with the gifts of faith, and we have made the profession of the faith, that we believe in our Lord and Saviour, whose birth into this world, we are celebrating this Christmas. But to reiterate again the points I have often raised during this period of festivities, I want to remind all of us gathered, that we must never forget about Christ in our lives.

We cannot take out Christ out of the equation of our lives, for He is the One who provided us with basically, everything we have. Without Him, we are nothing. Therefore, brethren, let us use this time, this chance, and this opportunity, to profess our faith, as clearly as St. John the Evangelist had, showing it not only through words but also through our actions. Most importantly, as Christians, we cannot say that we are Christians if we do not base our actions on love, for God is Love.

St. John the Evangelist had shown us the virtues of faith, and how important faith is for all of us. We all have been granted faith, and we have faith in the Lord, but we cannot remain idle. As Christians, that is as the followers of God, we are expected to go out and show our love to others, particularly those who lack them, and even unto those who hate and persecute us.

Let us all, from today onwards, follow in the footsteps of St. John the Evangelist, and proclaim the truth about our faith to all. Profess and proclaim it through our tongues, our hands, and our legs, yes, through our words, actions, and deeds, rooted deeply in the faith in God and in the love for the Lord, as St. John had once did.

May the Lord born unto the world on Christmas, bless us, strengthen us, and make us into the instruments of His will, just in the same way as St. John the Evangelist had been. God bless us all. Amen.