10th March 2016 Gratitude to the Lord God of Hosts for His Mercy this Lent

Deuteronomy 5:33 “Follow the whole way that Yahweh has marked for you, and you will survive to prosper and live long in the country which you are going to possess.’”

Ezekiel 18:23 “Would I take pleasure in the death of the wicked — declares the Lord Yahweh — and not prefer to see him renounce his wickedness and live?”

Joel 2:12 – 13 “’But now — declares Yahweh- come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning.’ Tear your hearts and not your clothes, and come back to Yahweh your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, and he relents about inflicting disaster.”

Isaiah 1:18 “’Come, let us talk this over,’ says Yahweh. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

Jeremiah 33:8 “I shall cleanse them of all their guilt, by which they have offended me, I shall forgive all their guilty actions, by which they have offended me and rebelled against me.”

John 3:16 “For this is how God loved the world: he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

From the above verses taken from Sacred Scripture, we recall the countless times the Lord has said throughout history of His love and mercy for fallen humanity. God never gives up on us, for even though the people did not pay attention to God’s Word in the Law and the Prophets, God still sent His Son Jesus Christ the Eternal Word of God to save us. This boundless love and mercy of God, stems from God’s very nature as the Communion of Love, the Blessed Trinity One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God loves us first so we can love one another as brethren, as the people of God, the family of God, the Church.

1 John 4:7 – 9 “My dear friends, let us love one another, since love is from God and everyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. Whoever fails to love does not know God, because God is love. This is the revelation of God’s love for us, that God sent his only Son into the world that we might have life through him.”

God’s greatest gifts are Faith, Hope and Love which last for eternity. These 3 gifts empower us to use all other gifts including spiritual gifts for service to build up God’s kingdom on Earth the Church. Be grateful to the Lord God the Giver of all good gifts.

1 Corinthians 13:13 – 14:1 “As it is, these remain: faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of them is love. Make love your aim; but be eager, too, for spiritual gifts, and especially for prophesying.”

This Season of Lent in the Year of Mercy, I am grateful for God’s grace to be a Seminarian for the past 2 months, undergoing formation and discerning more deeply His call. Most important for me it is growing in relationship to love God and others and self and it is through prayer that we allow God to form us. Knowing that He, the Lord God of hosts of Angels and the company Saints always loves us, and that He converts repentant sinners to Saints uplifts one, doesn’t it? Praise the Lord!

Advertisements

15th February 2016 Joys of Community Life After A Month in the Seminary

 

It has been slightly over a month since I joined the Seminary, and it has been joyful overall. I can experience some of the joys like the Psalmist in the following verse,

Psalm 133:1 “How good, how delightful it is to live as brothers all together!”

Community living is not an easy phase in life; no doubt National Service, School and Workplace, as well as family life may help in some way. However, coming from different family backgrounds, ministry and community involvement, differences in talents, abilities, fields of tertiary studies and work environments, as well as different behaviours and personalities may possibly create tensions in any community or situation people interact.

Personally, I admit that I enjoy the Community Life in the Seminary, because it builds on my past Consolations from the Lord that I experienced in different Ministries and Communities at Church of St. Vincent de Paul and Church of the Holy Spirit here in Singapore, as well as at the University of Queensland and St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Brisbane, Australia.

The Lord Jesus Christ, God the Father and the Holy Spirit have a key role in any community and ministry; the central focus should be our relationship with God translated in our relationships with our brothers and sisters, as well as with self.

That is why prayer at the level as the Universal Catholic Church in the form of the Liturgy in the Mass and the Divine Office play a key part, as well as Community prayers and personal prayer. Prayer helps us to be in tune with God, and changes us for the better and helps us to love and forgive, to accept others and also ourselves for who we are. This is reflected in the following verses taken from St. Paul’s epistles to the early Church communities at Colossae and Ephesus,

Colossians 3:13 “Bear with one another; forgive each other if one of you has a complaint against another. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same.”

Ephesians 4:2 “With all humility and gentleness, and with patience, support each other in love.”

To be honest, when I was much younger, I did not enjoy the idea of community. I saw task- orientated ministry and work as the modus operandi of social interactions, until I was living mostly alone for about three years. Then I felt how impersonal it was, and how contrary to the ways of the Lord shown in St. John’s Gospel in the Lord’s prayer for us to the Father:

John 17:21 “May they all be one, just as, Father, you are in me and I am in you, so that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.”

The challenges ahead may be plentiful both in Formation and life, because of my personal sins, weaknesses and “blind spots.  However, the truth is God’s grace can sustain us to face them, as St. Paul tells the early Church community in Corinth,

2 Corinthians 12:9 “but he has answered me, ‘My grace is enough for you: for power is at full stretch in weakness.’ It is, then, about my weaknesses that I am happiest of all to boast, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me;”

To live in the love of God, as Christ lives – this is what I hope to be able to achieve this Lent.

 

11th January 2016 Repent and Believe the Gospel

 

Mark 1:14 – 20 “After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the gospel from God saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel.’ As he was walking along by the Lake of Galilee he saw Simon and Simon’s brother Andrew casting a net in the lake — for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Come after me and I will make you into fishers of people.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him. Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending the nets. At once he called them and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.”

Romans 13:8 – 10 “The only thing you should owe to anyone is love for one another, for to love the other person is to fulfil the law. All these: You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet, and all the other commandments that there are, are summed up in this single phrase: You must love your neighbour as yourself. Love can cause no harm to your neighbour, and so love is the fulfilment of the Law.”

James 1:19 – 22 “Remember this, my dear brothers: everyone should be quick to listen but slow to speak and slow to human anger; God’s saving justice is never served by human anger; so do away with all impurities and remnants of evil. Humbly welcome the Word which has been planted in you and can save your souls. But you must do what the Word tells you and not just listen to it and deceive yourselves.”

1 Peter 1:17 – 19 “And if you address as Father him who judges without favouritism according to each individual’s deeds, live out the time of your exile here in reverent awe. For you know that the price of your ransom from the futile way of life handed down from your ancestors was paid, not in anything perishable like silver or gold, but in precious blood as of a blameless and spotless lamb, Christ.”

We live in a world filled with bad news everyday, of disasters, warfare, crimes, tragedies and scandals. Even in our own personal lives we struggle with being at peace with ourselves, our families, friends and people, and with God. This disorder is the result of personal sins and living in a broken world. We cannot save ourselves, only God can save us if we accept God’s Salvation by repenting of our sins and believing the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When our Lord Jesus began His public proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, He had to deal with the tragedy of the unjust arrest of a relative and friend, St. John the Baptist, who lived a good and holy life but was martyred for speaking the truth and upholding God’s Law. For the lives of Prophets, Apostles and Saints include persecution, often to the point of death. Our Lord Jesus Christ, in His Humanity grieved over tragedies affecting His friends and over people because in His Divinity His love for all was perfect. In this instance we see the Son of God, Jesus Christ, showing us that in the midst of bad news the Good News of God’s Kingdom still has to be lived and preached. He started to invite ordinary people who struggle with sin and temptation to be His first disciples, to join Him in His mission, to live with Him in community, to learn from Him and to witness first-hand the signs He would work to the glory of His Heavenly Father. The Lord offers salvation to all humanity. We need to always draw strength from the Love of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit to love perfectly.

 

10th January 2016 Obedience and Humility are signs of Holiness and Love

Luke 3:15 – 16 “A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to wonder whether John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, who is more powerful than me, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

John 3:27 – 30 “John replied: ‘No one can have anything except what is given him from heaven. ‘You yourselves can bear me out. I said, “I am not the Christ; I am the one who has been sent to go in front of him.” ‘It is the bridegroom who has the bride; and yet the bridegroom’s friend, who stands there and listens to him, is filled with joy at the bridegroom’s voice. This is the joy I feel, and it is complete. He must grow greater, I must grow less.”

Leviticus 19:1 – 2 “Yahweh spoke to Moses and said: ‘Speak to the whole community of Israelites and say: “Be holy, for I, Yahweh your God, am holy.”

Isaiah 40:3 “A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the desert a way for Yahweh. Make a straight highway for our God across the wastelands.”

Jeremiah 31:7 – 8 “For Yahweh says this: Shout with joy for Jacob! Hail the chief of nations! Proclaim! Praise! Shout, ‘Yahweh has saved his people, the remnant of Israel!’ Watch, I shall bring them back from the land of the north and gather them in from the far ends of the earth. With them, the blind and the lame, women with child, women in labour, all together: a mighty throng will return here!”

Ezekiel 34:11 – 12 “”For the Lord Yahweh says this: Look, I myself shall take care of my flock and look after it. As a shepherd looks after his flock when he is with his scattered sheep, so shall I look after my sheep. I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered on the day of clouds and darkness.”

Psalm 118:19 – 21 “Open for me the gates of saving justice, I shall go in and thank Yahweh. This is the gate of Yahweh, where the upright go in. I thank you for hearing me, and making yourself my Saviour.”

Luke 3:21 – 22 “Now it happened that when all the people had been baptised and while Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in a physical form, like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son; today have I fathered you.’”

Dear brethren and friends, today is the last day of the Christmas season and we remember the Baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ. Throughout the Old Testament times, God was preparing humanity for the coming of Jesus Christ His Son, and before Jesus began His public ministry to proclaim the Gospel of the kingdom of God and to heal and liberate us from sins and death, Jesus was baptised in order to sanctify the waters of Baptism with the Holy Spirit. It is here that we see the humility and obedience of St. John the Baptist who openly declared that he is only a voice who prepares the way for the Lord. St. John the Baptist in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ baptized Him, the soldier baptizes the King. Glory be to the Lord Jesus!

8th January 2016 Faith in the Son of God Overcomes Sin

1 John 5:5 – 13 “Who can overcome the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? He it is who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with water alone but with water and blood, and it is the Spirit that bears witness, for the Spirit is Truth. So there are three witnesses, the Spirit, water and blood; and the three of them coincide. If we accept the testimony of human witnesses, God’s testimony is greater, for this is God’s testimony which he gave about his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has this testimony within him, and whoever does not believe is making God a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. This is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life, and whoever has not the Son of God has not life. I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Luke 5:12 – 16 “Now it happened that Jesus was in one of the towns when suddenly a man appeared, covered with a skin-disease. Seeing Jesus he fell on his face and implored him saying, ‘Sir, if you are willing you can cleanse me.’ He stretched out his hand, and touched him saying, ‘I am willing. Be cleansed.’ At once the skin-disease left him. He ordered him to tell no one, ‘But go and show yourself to the priest and make the offering for your cleansing just as Moses prescribed, as evidence to them.’ But the news of him kept spreading, and large crowds would gather to hear him and to have their illnesses cured, but he would go off to some deserted place and pray.”

Romans 12:1 – 2 “I urge you, then, brothers, remembering the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, dedicated and acceptable to God; that is the kind of worship for you, as sensible people. Do not model your behaviour on the contemporary world, but let the renewing of your minds transform you, so that you may discern for yourselves what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and mature.”

Ephesians 4:23 – 24 “Your mind was to be renewed in spirit so that you could put on the New Man that has been created on God’s principles, in the uprightness and holiness of the truth.”

1 Peter 1:13 – 16 “Your minds, then, must be sober and ready for action; put all your hope in the grace brought to you by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Do not allow yourselves to be shaped by the passions of your old ignorance, but as obedient children, be yourselves holy in all your activity, after the model of the Holy One who calls us, since scripture says, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’”

Dear brethren and friends, we are both perpetrators and victims of sin, living in a broken world that lost its original grace because sin disfigures the creation of God, the Lord saves us by giving us His Son and the Holy Spirit because He loves us. In order for us to live holy lives of love, we need to accept the love of God made visible in His Son Jesus Christ, revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. It is as the people of God the Church throughout the world, that God wants us to be saved, not as individuals or small little clubs, but as a single flock under Christ Jesus our Good Shepherd. To live a life worthy of God’s call requires us to live a life of prayer and loving service, living in humility and compassion. Remember the way the Lord Jesus shows us, which is the right way to live as children of God. Praise the Lord!

7th January 2016 Year of Mercy of Liberation from Captivity

Isaiah 61:1 – 2 “The spirit of Lord Yahweh is on me for Yahweh has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the news to the afflicted, to soothe the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, release to those in prison, to proclaim a year of favour from Yahweh and a day of vengeance for our God, to comfort all who mourn”

Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”

Hebrews 4:12 “The word of God is something alive and active: it cuts more incisively than any two-edged sword: it can seek out the place where soul is divided from spirit, or joints from marrow; it can pass judgement on secret emotions and thoughts.”

Luke 4:14 – 21 “Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone glorified him. He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written: The spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord. He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even while you are listening.’”

John 3:16 “For this is how God loved the world: he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

The Lord God of Hosts created humanity in His image and likeness, to bear the image of His Son Jesus Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, to be truly children of God in Christ Jesus. However, it was the devil’s envy that brought sin into the world. Humanity fell into sin, succumbing to the temptations of evil and became disobedient to God committing the sin of pride, which is the main root sin, becoming more unrepentant and selfish.

This is a common struggle we all face. Remember it was pride that caused the devil and demons to fall and rebel against God, leaving their service to God and His kingdom as angelic spirits to become evil. Hence a war broke out in the heavens, and the Holy Angels of God by the power and authority of God cast out the devil and rebellious demons. As mentioned earlier that in the garden of Eden the Original Sin of disobedience too, is due to pride, a kind of spiritual and intellectual pride of thinking that one could be as great as God without God’s love and grace. Even though humanity time and time again sinned against God and each other, God did not abandon us, because He gave the Law and Covenants to the chosen people and constantly raised up Prophets to prepare for the Coming of His Son Jesus Christ.

When the Lord Jesus Christ came, He spoke words of wisdom that heal and liberate, because He is the Son of God who is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He liberates us and reveals to us the full meaning of the Law and the Prophets. The year of favour offered by the Lord is a time of grace and mercy, a time to return to God in His Son Jesus Christ. A time to be patient and wait upon the Lord in love and humility. All glory be to Christ Jesus our Lord, who lives and reigns with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Amen. Amen.

6th January 2016 New Calendar Year New Beginnings of Fear or Love?

Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created heaven and earth.”

Mark 1:1 “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

John 1:1 – 3 “In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things came into being, not one thing came into being except through him.”

1 Corinthians 13:13 “As it is, these remain: faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of them is love.”

1 John 4:16 – 18 “We have recognised for ourselves, and put our faith in, the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. Love comes to its perfection in us when we can face the Day of Judgement fearlessly, because even in this world we have become as he is. In love there is no room for fear, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear implies punishment and no one who is afraid has come to perfection in love.”

The Year 2016 has begun.

Every new year, just like every new day will have its own challenges.

A new day can be filled with hope, or sometimes

filled with new worries and anxieties.

At the start of every calendar year

many people like to make resolutions;

however, many also fail to keep them.

This is interesting,

given that many may even do a resolution

at the end of the prior year,

hoping that they can keep it through the coming new year.

And there are others who do it slightly after

the new calendar year has started,

and others who have given up on making resolutions

or who do not bother about it.

Regardless of whether we have made a new year resolution or not,

let us be mindful that life is fleeting,

in essence, every moment is a gift from God to us,

a moment to treasure,

all these different graces we have received.

All the fears, the worries, the joys, the laughter, the cheers, the frustrations,

the good times and the not so good times, and even the bad times,

both sufferings and healings, these can be moments of grace.

For if we remember that the Lord loves us always,

for He was there before we existed

and He will be there at our end,

we will have hope.

To have this hope, we need to have faith in Him who loves us first,

which means we need to encounter His love.

Encountering the love of God the Father

made visible in His Son Jesus Christ the Lord,

is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.

The greatest of all spiritual gifts God gives us are

Faith, Hope and Love.

The greatest of all gifts is Love,

because God is Love.

This is revealed to us when God the Father gave us

Jesus Christ His Son to save us,

and also when Jesus Christ our Lord

together with God the Father gave the Holy Spirit to us the Church.

Let us look forward to the rest of the year,

cherishing each moment,

remembering the many gifts and graces

that the Lord God of Hosts gives us

through His Beloved Son Jesus Christ

and the Holy Spirit,

and more importantly, being grateful to God for His steadfast love.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.