Friday, 28 December 2018 : Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 2 : 13-18

After the wise men had left, an Angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Get up, take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon be looking for the Child in order to kill Him.”

Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and left that night for Egypt, where He stayed until the death of Herod. In this way, what the Lord had said through the prophet was fulfilled : I called My Son out of Egypt.

When Herod found out that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was furious. He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its neighbourhood who were two years old or under. This was done in line with what he had learnt from the wise men about the time when the star appeared.

In this way, what the prophet Jeremiah had said was fulfilled : A cry is heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation : Rachel weeps for her children. She refuses to be comforted, for they are no more.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 20 : 20-28

At that time, the mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons, and she knelt down, to ask a favour. Jesus said to her, "What do you want?" And she answered, "Here, You have my two sons. Grant, that they may sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, in Your kingdom."

Jesus said to the brothers, "You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?" They answered, "We can." Jesus replied, "You will indeed drink My cup; but to sit at My right or at My left is not for Me to grant. That will be for those, for whom My Father has prepared it."

The other then heard all this, and were angry with the two brothers. Then Jesus called them to Him and said, "You know, that the rulers of nations behave like tyrants, and the powerful oppress them. It shall not be so among you : whoever wants to be great in your community, let him minister to the community. And if you want to be the first of all, make yourself the servant of all. Be like the Son of Man, Who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life to redeem many."

Friday, 17 June 2016 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Kings 11 : 1-4, 9-18, 20

When Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah, saw that her son had died, she was determined to wipe out all the descendants of the king. But Jehosheba, the daughter of king Joram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash, her nephew, and brought him away from among the king’s sons who were about to be killed, and put him with his wet nurse in the bedroom.

Thus she hid him from Athaliah, so that the boy was saved. And Joash remained hidden in the House of YHVH for six years while Athaliah reigned over the land. In the seventh year, Jehoiada the chief priest, summoned the officers of the royal guard and of the Carites to the House of YHVH. After concluding a pact with them under oath, he showed them the king’s son.

The commanders of the guards did what Jehoiada the priest had told them to do and they showed up with all their men, those who were to go off duty on the sabbath as well as those who were to come on duty on that day. Jehoiada entrusted to the officers the spears and shields of king David which were in the House of YHVH.

And the guards stood from the southern corner of the house to the north, surrounding the altar and the House of YHVH. Then Jehoiada, the priest, brought out the king’s son, crowned him and put the bracelets on him, then proclaimed and consecrated him king. All clapped their hands, shouting and crying out, “Long live the king!”

When Athaliah heard the noise of the people, she approached the crowd surrounding the House of YHVH. The king was standing by the pillar, according to the custom, and the officers and the trumpeters were with him. The people were filled with joy and they were blowing trumpets. On seeing this, Athaliah tore her clothes and cried out, “Treason, treason!”

Jehoiada the priest commanded the officers, “Surround her and bring her out to the courtyard, and kill anyone who tries to defend her.” He gave this order, because he thought, “She should not die in the House of YHVH.” They brought her out, and when they reached the palace of the king by the horses’ entrance, there they killed her.

Jehoiada made a covenant between YHVH and the king and the people so they would be the people of YHVH. All the citizens went to the temple of Baal and destroyed it. They broke the altars and the images into pieces, and killed Mattan, the priest of Baal, before his altar. Then Jehoiada, the priest, posted guards over the House of YHVH.

All the citizens were happy and the city was at peace. Now regarding Athaliah, she had died by the sword in the king’s palace.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Judges 9 : 6-15

Jotham, the youngest son of Jerubaal, said, “The trees once set out to find and anoint a king. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’ The olive tree answered, ‘Am I going to renounce the oil by which – thanks to Me – gods and people are honoured, to hold sway over the trees?'”

“The trees said to the fig tree : ‘Come and reign over us.’ The fig tree answered them, ‘Am I going to renounce my sweetness and my delicious fruit, to hold sway over the trees?'”

“The trees said to the vine : ‘Come and reign over us.’ The vine answered, ‘Am I going to renounce my juice which cheers gods and people to hold sway over the trees?'”

“Then the trees said to the bramble bush : ‘Come, reign over us.’ The bramble bush answered the trees, ‘If you come in sincerity to anoint me as your king, then come near and take shelter in my shade; but if not, let fire break out of the bramble bush to devour even the cedars of Lebanon.”

Saturday, 24 May 2014 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians and our Lady of Sheshan in China, World Day of Prayer for the Church in China (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate a great event and a great day of prayer and asking for supplication, that is for the suffering that our brethren in faith suffers even this very moment, as they had for the past decades, of the great persecution and hostility against the faith and the faithful in China. Today is the day of universal prayer, when we, as one Church of God, pray as one for the deliverance of our brethren who are daily persecuted just because they remain faithful and true to the fullness of the truth that God has revealed and kept within His Church.

Today we also commemorate, perhaps very appropriately, the feast of our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary in her aspect as the Help of Christians, as the hope for all mankind who are in the darkness of this world and under the dominion of Satan, for Mary, as the mother of Jesus our Lord and Saviour, is the vessel through whom the Lord worked His great graces and power, that led to our salvation in Jesus.

Today also we celebrate the feast of our Lady of Sheshan, who is the representation of Mary the Help of Christians, the patroness of the Basilica at Sheshan near Shanghai in China, which was famous both in China and around the world, and one of the lasting symbol of the perseverance of the faithful throughout the many decades of persecutions against the faith and the faithful ones of God.

Today’s celebration and prayerful devotion is a vivid and strong reminder to all of us, that in our world today, despite it being generally easier for us to live in the world, with all the amenities and goodness and improvements in the living quality and standards, especially for those who live in the developed countries, not everything is always good for us. Persecution against the faithful is real, even in this day, and we should never think that persecution is only a thing in the past or during the Roman times.

These days, being a faithful person is getting ever more difficult, especially because there are more and more oppositions against the faith and as mankind grew in their power and achievements, they also grew in pride, and loathed having to be ‘ordered’ around by someone whom they deem to be inexistent in their faulty and lacking sense of understanding. Mankind grew in their opposition and resistance to the love of God and His ways, preferring to follow their own ways.

That is precisely the condition of the Church besieged around the world, from the West and the developed world in general where the faith is under serious attacks from the so-called secularism and relativism, especially in terms of moral and scientific relativism, which undermined the teachings of the Church on the faith in the hearts and minds of many among the faithful, leading them to fall into corruption and trap of the evil one. Mankind misused the wisdom and intellect given to them to serve their own purposes, and this even lead to them doubting about God and thinking that He is not present, using their scientific discoveries to try and proof that in vain.

Then, there are also many oppositions and persecutions by those affected by the heresies of the faith, and by those whose eyes had been clouded by the devil and therefore unable to comprehend the truth of the Lord, which He had revealed through Jesus, and from Him, through the Church and its teachings. These persecutions occur throughout the world, and many of our brethren suffer from it. Daily, there are new persecutions everywhere in the world, that even new martyrs arise every single day.

And we come to the main point of importance for this day, that is the persecution of our brethren in faith in China, and to a lesser extent, the persecution of the faithful and mankind in general, in other Communist and authoritarian states, most notorious being the state of North Korea, which continuously and without regards to human rights and nature, punish and torture countless peoples for opposing their authorities and out of fear of losing their absolute control and power over the people.

Let me give a brief history and explanation of how the Church in China came into this sad and unfortunate state of affairs. The faith was brought to China by many missionaries of the faith centuries ago, who persevered through oppositions and persecutions. The faith grew very rapidly and soon millions of the faithful came forth in that country with the oldest civilisation in the world. They managed to reconcile their faith with their culture and all the differences between them.

As the Chinese monarchy and Empire crumbled and replaced by republican governments just over a century ago, and the people and the faith went through a difficult time, and wars and conflicts were commonplace in those turbulent years, culminating in a deadly and devastating war, between China and Japan that took the lives of millions. And yet, during those difficult times, the faith continued to grow rapidly.

But the devil certainly did not rest and he worked hard to undermine the successes that we had achieved. The Communists that first spread from Russia and then into China, brought great ruin and suffering for the faithful. They followed the godless, atheistic and anarchic teachings and ideologies of Karl Marx, or Marxism, who argued that religion is the opium of the masses that is the people, because to him religion gave people false hope. This shows how mistaken Karl Marx was and how ignorant he was in the faith, the one true and only faith.

Yet, people took the idea seriously, and as Marxist ideas propagate by rising along the line of class divide and class warfare, gaining the support of the poor supermajority, Communism became very popular and brought about great trouble for the faithful, in many parts of the world. And although persecution of this nature had ended with the inevitable fall of many Communist regimes around the world just around two decades ago, but in countries like China and North Korea, persecution continues right until today.

In China, the advent of the Communist power in there spelt trouble for the faithful and for the Church, when in 1949, the Communists won the power struggle for the ultimate power and control in China, and persecution had continued ever since in various ways and methods. For more than six decades, the faithful had been subjected to varying degrees of persecution, be it openly or subtly, and many martyr were born out of this great persecution.

The Communist and atheist government tried to control the Church by creating their own ‘official church’ which they controlled with absolute power and tyranny to partially give a facade that the government tolerated freedom of religion and faith, but in fact, until today, is greatly fearful and opposed to the Church and to the faith, rightly so because they built their authorities on the power of the devil, and with the faith, the devil shall fall, and so will those who depend on his power.

They forced the faithful to go through forced labour and intense concentration camps, through various tortures and punishments, and yet they failed miserably, as the faith will only grow ever stronger with persecutions, and they will not succeed. They acted in desperation for they fear of losing their power, but the Holy Spirit will certain not remain silent. As He had done before, He will come and then transform this world anew, and yes, transform China anew!

Brothers and sisters, let us all pray, and pray hard for the deliverance of our brethren in faith, who are persecuted and discriminated daily for their perseverance to remain faithful to the truth in the Lord. We are in this sense, very fortunate that we have such freedom to practice our faith, but again, we have to be ever vigilant, that we do not fall into the trap and temptations of Satan. Let us pray for the many missionaries who work in spreading the Good News, be it openly or clandestinely in the country of China and North Korea, and many other parts of the world that are still in darkness.

May our Lord, together with His blessed mother Mary, the help of all Christians, protect and help all those who suffer for His sake, and those who keep alive faithfully their faith and devotion to Him. May they all be safe and be blessed day after day, and may we also be inspired by their perseverance and dedication to Your Most Holy Name. Lord, bless China and her people, and may Your Name be known throughout that country, that the whole people may know You and turn to You as their Lord and Saviour. Amen!

Thursday, 27 February 2014 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 48 : 14-15ab, 15cd-16, 17-18, 19-20

This is the fate of people trusting themselves, the future of those who rely on their strength. Like sheep led to the grave, they have death as their shepherd and ruler.

Quickly their form will be consumed in the world of the dead, which is their home. But God will rescue my soul from the grave by receiving me unto Himself.

Fear not when someone grows rich, when his power becomes oppressively great, for nothing will he take when he dies; his wealth and pomp he will leave behind.

Though he praised himself in his lifetime, “All will say that I have enjoyed life,” he will join the generation of his forebears, who will never again see the light.

Sunday, 16 February 2014 : 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 2 : 6-10

In fact, we do speak of wisdom to the mature in faith, although it is not a wisdom of this world or of its rulers, who are doomed to perish. We teach the mystery and secret plan of divine wisdom, which God destined from the beginning to bring us to Glory.

No ruler of this world ever knew this; otherwise they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. But as Scripture says: Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it dawned on the mind what God has prepared for those who love Him.

God has revealed it to us, through His Spirit, because the Spirit probes everything, even the depth of God.

 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red (Martyrs)

2 Samuel 24 : 2, 9-17

The king said to Joab and the commanders of the army who were with him, “Go through all the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and count the people that I may know how many they are.”

Joab gave the total count of the people to the king : eight hundred thousand sword-wielding warriors in Israel and five hundred thousand men in Judah. But after he had the people counted, David felt remorse and said to YHVH, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done, but now, o YHVH, I ask You to forgive my sin for I have acted foolishly.”

The following day, before David awoke, YHVH’s word had come to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, “Go, and give David this message : I offer you three things and I will let one of them befall you according to your own choice.”

So Gad went to David and asked him, “Do you want three years of famine in your land? Or do you want to be pursued for three months by your foes while you flee from them? Or do you want three days’ pestilence in your land? Now, think and decide what answer I shall give Him who sent me.”

David answered Gad, “I am greatly troubled. Let me fall into the hands of YHVH whose mercy is abundant; but let me not fall into human hands.” So YHVH sent a pestilence on Israel from morning until the appointed time, causing the death of seventy thousand men from Dan to Beersheba.

When the angel stretched forth his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, YHVH would punish no more and said to the angel who was causing destruction among the people, “It is enough, hold back your hand.” The angel of YHVH was already at the threshing floor of Araunah, the Jebusite.

When David saw the angel striking the people, he spoke to YHVH and said, “I have sinned and acted wickedly, but these are only the sheep; what have they done? Let Your hand strike me and my father’s family.”

Thursday, 23 January 2014 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Samuel 18 : 6-9 and 1 Samuel 19 : 1-7

When the soldiers arrived after David had slain the Philistine, the women came out from the cities of Israel to meet king Saul singing and dancing with timbrels and musical instruments. They were merrily singing this song : “Saul has slain his thousands, and David, his tens of thousands.”

Saul was very displeased with this song and said, “They have given tens of thousands to David but to me only thousands! By now he has everything but the kingdom!” From then on, Saul became very distrustful of David.

Saul told his son Jonathan and his servants of his intention to kill David. But Jonathan, who liked David very much, said to David, “My father Saul wants to kill you. Be on your guard tomorrow morning and hide yourself in a secret place. I will go out and keep my father company in the countryside where you are and I will speak to him about you. If I find out something, I will let you know.”

Jonathan spoke well of David to his father Saul and said, “Let not the king sin against his servant David for he has not sinned against you. On the contrary, what he has done has benefitted you. He risked his life in killing the Philistine and YHVH brought about a great victory for Israel. You yourself saw this and greatly rejoiced. Why then sin against innocent blood and kill David without cause?”

Saul heeded Jonathan’s plea and swore, “As YHVH lives, he shall not be put to death.” So Jonathan called David and told him all these things. He then brought him to Saul and David was back in Saul’s service as before.