Friday, 7 October 2016 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of our Lady of the Rosary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Acts 1 : 12-14

Then the disciples of Jesus returned to Jerusalem from the Mount called Olives, which is a fifteen minute walk away. On entering the city they went to the room upstairs where they were staying.

Present there were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James, son of Alpheus; Simon the Zealot and Judas son of James. All of these together gave themselves to constant prayer. With them were some women and also Mary, the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016 : Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Numbers 21 : 4b-9

The people were discouraged by the journey and began to complain against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is neither bread nor water here and we are disgusted with this tasteless manna.”

YHVH then sent fiery serpents against them. They bit the people and many of the Israelites died. Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, speaking against YHVH and against you. Plead with YHVH to take the serpents away.”

Moses pleaded for the people and YHVH said to him, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a standard; whoever has been bitten and then looks at it shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a standard. Whenever a man was bitten, he looked towards the bronze serpent and he lived.

Alternative reading
Philippians 2 : 6-11

Though He was in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking on the nature of a servant, made in human likeness, and in His appearance found as a Man.

He humbled Himself by being obedient to death, death on the cross. That is why God exalted Him and gave Him the Name which outshines all names, so that at the Name of Jesus all knees should bend in heaven, on earth and among the dead, and all tongues proclaim that Christ Jesus is the Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Friday, 25 March 2016 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is Good Friday, and we all know that today marks the very special moment in the history of our faith and of our salvation, because on this day we celebrate together the love of our God, the great and infinite love which He had for every single one of us, by bearing our own sins and iniquities upon Himself, and ascending to the hill of Golgotha, He bared Himself before all to see, and though rejected and ridiculed, He persevered to the end for our sake. Yes, so that by His suffering and death on the cross, He may bring us all out from the darkness and into the eternal light.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, one might be asking, that given the gravity of the situation of the day, of what we commemorate, then why we do call this day Good Friday? Should it not be one of sorrow and sadness, remembering how our Lord and Saviour was hated, rejected, cast out and sentenced to death on the cross? But this is where exactly we have to understand the meaning of our Lord’s works and His greatest work of all, that by sacrificing Himself and offering Himself on the cross, He has brought us all a new hope, and as well as a new life. Today is Good for us, because if not for this day, all of us would have no hope, and our existence in this world would have been meaningless.

Yes, we have ever suffered in this world, suffered pain and bitterness, sorrow and sadness, and all the other forms of sufferings because of the consequences of our sins and disobedience against God. We have betrayed our Lord, broken our promises to Him, failing to keep His laws and covenants, and by listening more to the words of Satan the deceiver and also to our own human desires, pride, greed and submitting ourselves to sin, rather than to obey the Lord and to live in accordance with His will. It was our destiny and fate for us to face persecution and punishment at the end of our earthly lives, an eternity of suffering and separation from the Lord our God in hell.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God does despise our sins and He was angry at us with our disobedience. But we must not forget that just as much as He was angry with our sins and wickedness, He also still loved us with equal and even greater intensity, for all of us are beloved in His eyes, and He had created all of us out of love, to enjoy forever the blessings and graces that He had promised to all of us. Yet, because of our disobedience, we have been sundered from Him, separated from those blessings and graces intended for us, and that is why we suffered, because of our sinfulness.

And therefore to that extent of helping us and to keep us away from our fate of being destroyed for our disobedience, God Himself intervened for our sake, by sending to us His Deliverer, the Saviour Who would bring all mankind out of their sins and their misery, and bring them from the darkness of sin and into the light of righteousness in Him. And for this purpose He would send no mere man or any mere servant, but He sent to us His own Son, the very Lord God and Creator of all life and all the universe. He sent to us as a Redeemer, the Word of God, He Who is part of the Trinity, One God and Lord of all things, and yet, in all these, He was willing to empty Himself and came down to us in the form of a humble Man.

All these were done, so that by His humble and perfect offering before God His Father, the Lord God may accept His offering, and use it as the redemption and grace for all of us mankind who have ever lived, from the days of Adam to the days of the last man at the end of time. God offered Himself on the cross for us, that all of us who have a share in His suffering and death, may receive the gifts of eternal life and redemption from our sins. This was a sacrifice beyond all other sacrifices and offerings, for if in the past, the people of Israel offered the blood of goats and doves in order to absolve them temporarily from their sins, but God Himself offered His own Flesh and Blood, the perfect and spotless offering beyond all others, which was the only one worthy to redeem the whole multitude of our sins, every single taint of original sin that had held us back from our salvation and reunion with our loving God.

And if He had loved us so much, then what are we all supposed to do, brothers and sisters in Christ? Christ had chosen to die for all of us, for all mankind, from the least of sinners to the greatest among them, and from the humblest and smallest person, to the great and the mighty. He did not choose from us, and neither was He biased against a certain group or towards a certain person, but He offered His love, mercy and salvation to all. It is our choice now then, whether we are to accept that rich offering of love and mercy, or whether we want to reject them and instead continue to proceed on with our own lives.

Today we are all reminded that the cross that our Lord bore on His way to Calvary, and the cross on which He was nailed to, and hung between the heavens and the earth is a cross of love, the cross of mercy, the cross of forgiveness. For it was through that cross, that God made His love evident to all, and it was through that love, that He endeavoured to gather all of His beloved children to Himself, and took for us, for our sake, the punishments intended for us. And that cross is also the cross of victory, of the triumph against evil and sin, and of the triumph against death. For we know that His death was not forever, and neither did death had any power over Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, but we also have to realise that the cross of Christ is also a cross of suffering, as well as a cross of responsibility. Jesus Himself had said to His disciples, that all those who want to follow Him ought to take up their own crosses and follow Him. So, all of us mankind also have the same obligation to carry up our crosses with us, if we are to follow Him. This is what Jesus told us about how by becoming His followers and disciples, life will be difficult for us, because of all the opposition by the world, and by all the forces of darkness that did not desire to see us saved from our fated destruction.

And just how do we carry our crosses, brethren? It is by remembering that the cross itself is a symbol of love, a bridge between God and mankind, which our Lord Jesus had built for us. For once because of our sins, a great and wide chasm had existed between us and God, and none of us could go to the Lord without crossing that chasm, which was impossible. But our Lord Jesus made it all possible by His death on the cross. For we all who share in His cross, dying to ourselves and our sins, share with Him the glorious joy of His resurrection and brought into a new life of righteousness worthy of our Lord. It was through this that God Himself made the bridge between Him and ourselves, that is the cross of Christ.

Therefore, in order to carry our crosses, we ought to remember that the cross itself is a joining between two components, the vertical bar and the horizontal bar. The vertical bar represents the love and the relationship we have with God, while the horizontal bar represents the love and the relationships we have with one another, with our fellow men. And hence, if we are to be faithful to the Lord, and to be worthy of the salvation which He had offered us through His cross, we ought to remember to obey His covenant and His laws, that is by loving Him with all the might of our bodies, minds, hearts and soul, and do the same to our fellow brethren around us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all use this opportunity to reflect on our own lives. Have all of us been faithful to the Lord, and obeyed all of His laws and commandments? Or have we instead been more faithful to our whim and desires? Have we been loving and merciful in our interactions with our brethren around us, showing them acts of love and mercy, of care and compassion, of tenderness and justice? Let us all do so, if we have not done so yet. Let us all go forth in celebrating this Easter Triduum and the whole joyful season of Easter, by bringing forth the joy that God brought us, and share it with others who have little or none. May God bless us and keep us, and may through His holy Cross, He brings us to eternal life in Him. God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016 : Wednesday of the Holy Week, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard again how Judas Iscariot went on to betray the Lord Jesus, bargaining with the chief priests and the Pharisees to hand Him over for the thirty pieces of silver coins they offered to him. Today is the traditional day in the tradition of our Church when it was told that Judas went to deal with the Pharisees about the price he would receive for betraying his Lord and Messiah.

And how is this relevant to all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ? As tomorrow is the beginning of the Easter Triduum, we should enter it with good understanding of what we are celebrating, so that when we go through it, we may find ourselves t benefit far more rather than if we do not understand or are aware of what all the important celebrations of our liturgical year are about, especially that of the upcoming few days.

Judas chose the world and its wealth instead of Jesus, His teachings and truth. He was a thief whom Jesus called to be one of His disciples. God called His disciples from various origins. Some were fishermen, some were zealots and tax collectors, and some were criminals like Judas. But what distinguished him from the others of the Twelve was that, even though the others abandoned their past lives, leaving behind everything to follow the Lord, but Judas did not.

We know how St. Peter, the chief of all the Apostles and the most devoted disciple of Jesus once also betrayed Jesus when out of fear as the Jews arrested his Lord and Master, and under suspicion because he was counted among His disciples, then he denied knowing Him, denying his own Lord, to Whom he had promised that he would even lay down his life for Him.

But what is the difference here? The difference is that, while St. Peter realised the gravity of his sins, and in the same manner, Judas also did, when he regretted having sold out his Master for thirty pieces of silver, but while Judas gave up on himself, and out of despair, hanged himself on a tree, seeking the easy way out of the trouble, but St. Peter began a long path to redemption and greatness.

Judas did not repent from his sins even though he did feel regret for his actions. He had given himself up to the temptations of the world, the temptation of money, which he was not able to resist throughout the time when he was following Jesus. He helped himself to the funds of the group, stealing from the money that should have been used to help the poor and for the common good for his own selfish benefits. And therefore, he was condemned because of his failure to turn himself away from sin, resisting those sins and seeking forgiveness from God.

St. Peter professed one more time his faith to the Lord when He asked of him three times, whether he loved Him. And as St. Peter professed his sincere and genuine love for his Lord, the Lord was happy and pleased with His faith, and entrusted to him the flock which He had established in this world, that he would become the anchor and the core through which the Church of God would grow and encompass all the people who have been saved in Him.

In all these, we have to realise one simple fact, that even all saints were themselves once sinners, and some of them were even great sinners. St. Augustine of Hippo is one of the most prominent and well-cited example, of how even a great sinner can become a great saint, only if he or she would come to realise the gravity of their sins, and know that they need to do something about it, and indeed, take the necessary action.

Today, we commemorate the feast of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, one of the first saints hailing from the New World, or which is now known as the American continent. St. Turibius de Mogrovejo lived a few hundred years ago during the time when the people living in those places lived under slavery and harsh treatment by the Spanish who ruled over them and pressed hard on their lives, exploiting them at every possible opportunity.

St. Turibius de Mogrovejo led the people to live faithfully, and in his actions, he showed his examples to them, and worked among them even though heat, through difficult and challenging times. He helped to build facilities and infrastructures that benefited the indigenous peoples, and therefore helping them to live more comfortably and as a champion of their rights, St. Turibius de Mogrovejo helped the people to rediscover their rights.

In all these, we all should see how even the act of a single man could have such a great impact on many others. It does not need extraordinary works and events in order for us to do something that is good and something that can benefit our brethren around us. What we need to do is that we need to begin doing something and committing ourselves to do things that will bring happiness to others, and begin from small things and taking small steps to help us to become ever more righteous and committed to our Lord.

May God bless us all strengthen us, and may He keep us close to His side, and awaken in us the strong desire to love Him, so that in all the things we do, we will always strive to reach out to Him and to the salvation He offers us all with love and great kindness. God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016 : Tuesday of the Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is very clear from the Scripture readings today that we are really getting ever closer to the pinnacle of our liturgical year celebrations, that is the Easter Triduum, celebrating the Last Supper of our Lord where He instituted the Eucharist, giving us His Body and Blood to share as a new covenant between us and God, and which was made complete and perfect through His ultimate sacrifice on the cross, and which culminates in the celebration of His glorious resurrection.

In today’s Gospel, we saw first how Judas Iscariot was about to betray Jesus, his Lord and Master. Judas betrayed his Master to the Pharisees and the elders at the Temple, for a sum of thirty silver coins. Such was the price of a slave at that time, and which means, Judas sold out his own Master, the Lord God and King of Kings, at a price no more than the price of a mere slave.

And thus our Lord lowered Himself to be like a slave, and even lesser than a slave, for He had brought Himself to the lowest of the lowest darkness, in order to bring us all who have fallen into the same darkness, and lift us back up into the light. It was because God loves us all that He had endeavoured to do so, and willingly He went forth carrying out the mission which His Father had entrusted Him with, the salvation of all mankind.

The world itself did not appreciate Him, and they ridiculed Him, treated Him badly and rejected Him, and they refused to listen to His message, His teachings and His truth. But God had mercy on us because of His love, and because of that love which would not allow Him to abandon us all in the darkness on our own, unless it is by our own desire and conscious choice that we had chosen to abandon Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, indeed, the time of Lent is ending, and the season of fasting and abstinence to prepare ourselves for the joyous celebration of Easter is coming to an end soon. However, it does not mean that we return back to our sinful ways again. God wanted to save us, because He does not want us to fall into eternal damnation, and through the Church, He had shown us the path to reach out to His salvation, freely offered to all.

If God had loved us all so much, have we ourselves love Him as well? Or have we instead rejected His love and spurned His mercy? Do we want to be like Judas His traitorous disciple who loved money and worldliness more than he loved the Lord? It is a choice that we need to make, that in our lives, all of us should be conscious and be aware that all of our actions have implications to our salvation or to our damnation.

Let us not end our preparation for Easter just with the coming of Easter. If we have sincerely tried to abandon our sinfulness, casting aside the darkness and the wickedness that had coloured our lives all these while, then let us continue to do so, for the devil is always round about us, manipulating the world and all its forces to oppose the Lord and all of His good works. This means that temptations are always around us, and if we are not careful, we may fall into temptation and sin once again.

May God help us in our journey of this life, and may He strengthen the faith in each one of us, and the love which we should have for God, for His laws and for our fellow brethren. May He make us all realise how much He has loved us, and how much He has blessed us, and therefore awaken in us the desire for repentance, to turn our backs to sin, and to return to Him with all our heart. May He be with us now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 21 March 2016 : Monday of the Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about how Mary, the sister of Lazarus anointed the feet of Jesus her Lord as He was sitting down for a meal with her and her family, as well as with His disciples. And we heard how Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus, accused her of wasting such precious and expensive perfume on Him, when the perfume could have been sold for the proceeds to be given to the poor.

And of course, the Gospel also explained that Judas had been helping himself to the funds of Jesus and His group, and therefore, he had been a dishonest steward to the money which Jesus and His disciples had gathered. It was explained that he was a thief, and thus, naturally, we would find it easy to dismiss him and his comments as the comment of a thief and a slanderer.

But, remember, Judas was a sinner, and so do we too. Mary was a sinner as well, and unworthy as she was, thus, she wiped the feet of her Lord with her own hair. This has a parallel in another Gospel, where the woman who did the same deed to Jesus, was a sinner, who tearfully anointed the feet of Jesus with perfume, and wiped it dry with her hair.

And Judas also made a similar comment in that case, a condescending remark, rebuking and chiding the woman for doing what she had done, and saying that the proceeds could have been given to the poor should she had sold it instead of using it all on Jesus’ feet. But then, let us all ask ourselves, and let us all observe ourselves in this world, in all the events that we observe, is it not all just about the same?

Yes, many people in the world today attacked the Church and criticised the Church, the priests and the faithful, and they criticised the way that we ran things in the Church, criticising our supposed hypocrisy and indifference, especially those who misunderstood and thought that what we are doing are not in the way of the Lord, and instead reflecting an elitist attitude.

What am I talking about, brothers and sisters in Christ? I am talking about those who criticised the Church and our faith for having not done enough for the poor and the suffering in the world, and for having churches and buildings made from wonderful and precious materials, gold, silver and all the other riches of the world. They accuse us of being hypocritical and indifferent, but the reality, is actually really, very different. For the ways of this world, is not like the ways of our Lord.

The fact is that, the Church had done massively to help the poor and the destitute around the world, providing care for countless millions, education for those who once had chance for none, housing and care for those who were homeless, love and care for those who were ostracised and cast out from the society, and ultimately, care for countless people who had once no hope, and now they had a better future.

It was not perfect indeed, and there are still ever more things that we can do, in order to help countless other millions who are still out of the reach of the loving hands of God through His Church. But this is where we all need to come in. Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, the Church is not just the institution of priests, bishops, the Pope and all the hierarchy of the Church. The Church is truly the body of the unity of all those who are faithful in the Lord, which means including all of us as well.

It is the combined efforts of the whole Church that can make a great difference in our world today, and thus, we have to realise that many of us have yet to contribute to the efforts of the Universal Church in helping our fellow brethren. And in this time when we are preparing to welcome the joy of Easter, let us reflect on this, as there are still so many things we can do to share that joy with those who have none. And if we have not done so, what are we waiting for?

And lastly, remember, about the rich decorations and the gold and silver vessels in the Church? Just as Mary had anointed the feet of Jesus with the very expensive perfume, it is also the same for what the Church had done. Why are all the vessels used in the Mass made from precious metals? That is because it is how we honour the Lord, Who is truly present in the Eucharist, the bread and wine made into the very substance of His own Body and Blood, that we cannot spare anything less than our most precious earthly things to be the vessels to contain such precious and great a gift for our salvation.

We glorify God through such means, and help one another to approach God with such means. Through what decent methods the Church had done, we have tried our best to bring Heaven itself to earth. A true and pure worship is when all of us the faithful are gathered together, and are so immersed in the environment and all the earthly glories placed together, that we indeed are present not just on earth, but in the sanctuary of the Temple of God in Heaven itself.

Therefore, as we all prepare for the joys of Easter, the celebrations that we are going to revel in as we share the joy and hope of our Lord’s resurrection, we too should look forward to our own resurrection and rise into glory, which all begin from ourselves, from how we live our lives. Let us all do what we can to make ourselves worthy of the Lord, and let us begin by putting more effort to help one another particularly in helping out the efforts of the Church in its charitable activities around the world.

May God help us to make this Holy Week a very meaningful time for us, and if we have not begun, let us all initiate a very important change in our lives, by seeking to turn away from all things that kept us away from truly being able to reach out to the Lord, and finding our way to Him through repentance, through commitment and love for Him. Let us all be saved in His grace. Amen.

Friday, 18 March 2016 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, n this day we heard about the people who contested against Jesus, who doubted Him, persecuted Him and rejected Him, trying to stone Him for allegedly trying to portray Himself as God. But the truth is just that, that He is God, and He was the One Whom the prophets and the other servants of God had been proclaiming about, and Whose coming the people should have expected and welcomed with joy.

But they did not do so, and instead, they resisted Him at every turn possible, attacking Him for His revelations of truth about Himself. Indeed, what Jesus was doing was merely to dispel centuries and millennia of misinformation, twisted truths and teachings, and prejudice as well as other things that have kept the people from seeing the truth that is in our Lord Jesus Christ.

And the people of God who were living in sin did not like to be told by someone else, that they have sinned and that they need to follow the path shown by the Lord Jesus if they were to seek salvation in God. This was because of the great ego in their hearts, the reluctance and unwillingness to change themselves because others said that what they have done so far and thought was right, was actually wrong.

Thus, they persecuted the prophets and the messengers of God, whose messages they did not like and which they did not want to hear. And similarly, when the Lord Himself came into the world, save for a few who are willing to listen and to accept the word of God, the rest of them continued in their constant rebellion against God, shutting themselves, their ears and their hearts from God trying to speak to them and make them understand the truth.

And in their stubbornness, they have not just damned themselves by refusing God’s offer of salvation, but similarly, they have even caused others to be shut out from salvation, misleading one another, and ultimately, committing sin, as they had done with their ancestors, by persecuting the prophets, the messengers of God, holy men and women carrying the good works and the good news of the Lord’s salvation, and they even persecuted the Lord Himself Who loved them regardless of how they had treated Him.

In this season of Lent, as we are approaching its ending and the beginning of the Holy Week this coming Palm Sunday, let us all use the remaining time as we prepare to celebrate the upcoming greatest feast and mysteries of our faith and welcome the season of Easter, to become people who are more willing to open up ourselves to the love of God, to listen more with our ears and our hearts, the reminders from the Lord, seeking for our repentance.

Today we celebrate also the feast of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, a holy bishop and servant of God, who devoted his whole life to the service of God and His Church. From him, there are many examples that we can learn about, if we are to become ever more faithful to God and be more righteous in His sight. There are many things that we can learn from his life and from his devotion.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem was a devoted bishop who oversees the faithful in Jerusalem and beyond, caring for his flock and serving them with love and commitment. And he helped them to resist the pressure of heresy and all those who sought to undermine the Church by promoting false teachings. Those heretics tried to persecute him, and St. Cyril was even exiled a few times for his persistence in resisting such heresies, but he continued to press on hard regardless.

In the end, the faithful people of God triumphed, and all the heresies were defeated. The forces of the wicked were not able to destroy the Church and the truth found in it. And the faithful were saved from being harmed by such lies, and those who have fallen, many of them returned to the faith and to the salvation God had offered through His Church alone.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, looking at this example, let us all also seek to find the truth in God through the Church and cast aside all of our stubbornness, ego and all the things that kept us away from being truly devoted to God. Let us find ourselves the path that leads us to God, and that path is likely through penitence, self-limiting, and all the charitable acts and works that we should do, in order to limit our selfishness and grow in our loving care for others.

May God see us and all that we are doing to bring glory to His Name. May He forgive us all our sins and past trespasses, and we hope that one day God will bless us and welcome us into His eternal kingdom, granting us the inheritance and the promise He has given to all of His faithful ones. May God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.