MASS SCHEDULES

As of 28 Oct 2022

Monday to Friday

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  • 6:00pm

Saturday

  • 6:30am
  • 5:30pm

Sunday

  • 6:45am
  • 8:30am (Mandarin)
  • 10:15am
  • 12:00pm
  • 5:30pm

Public Holiday

  • 9:00 am

As of 4/11/2022

Monday to Friday

  • 9:00am to 6:00pm

Saturday

  • 10:30am to 1:00pm

Sunday & Public Holidays

  • Closed

 

As of 15th Sept 2022

Monday to Friday

  • 9:00am to 11:30am
  • 2:00pm to 5:00pm

Saturday

  • 10:30am to 1:00pm

Sunday & Public Holidays

  • Closed

 

Monday to Friday

  • 9:00am to 6:00pm

Saturday & Sunday

  • 9:00am to 1:00pm

Public Holidays

  • Closed

28 November, 2022, Monday, 1st Week of Advent

November 28, 2022

SALVATION FOR ALL NATIONS WHO HAVE FAITH

Yesterday, on the First Sunday of Advent, we came to understand that Advent speaks of God’s coming into the world, beginning with creation, the history of salvation of the Israelites, then the Incarnation, passion, death and resurrection of our Lord.  His mission of restoring the meaning and purpose of History continues with the early Church and from now until His second coming, we are called to prepare our life in expectation of the Parousia, the Day of the Lord, whether it is our personal coming before the Lord or at the final judgment for all.  The finality of history is therefore found only by those who have faith in God and fuller still, if this faith is founded on Christ, who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14:6), “the first and the last, the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end.”  (Rev 22:13)

The finality of history, which is the restoration of creation and fulfilment of humanity, must surely include all nations, including the Gentiles, and not just the Jews.  This is the theme of today’s scripture readings.  Both readings focus on the salvation of the Gentiles.  In the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah, it was envisioned that “all the nations will stream to it, peoples without number will come to it; and they will say: ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the Temple of the God of Jacob that he may teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths; since the Law will go out from Jerusalem.’”  Indeed, Israel is called not just to save their own members but to save all of humanity. There must be no narrow understanding of salvation, that it is limited to the Chosen People, the children of Abraham, but for all peoples who come to acknowledge Him as the Lord.

Only then will there be true peace on earth and eternal peace in heaven.  Through Israel, God “will wield authority over the nations and adjudicate between many peoples; these will hammer their swords into ploughshares, their spears into sickles. Nation will not lift sword against nation, there will be no more training for war. House of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.”  Of course, this will be possible only with the coming of Christ as the fulfilment of the hope of Israel and Jesus as the Light of the nations.  There is no world peace today because of the sins and selfishness of men.  Everyone is for himself and his own interests, his success, his wealth and convenience.

Jesus came to the world for all of humanity, symbolized in the Centurion in today’s gospel.  Although, he did not actively seek out the Gentiles during his ministry as He was focused on building up His disciples for the promulgation of the gospel.  Indeed, after His death and resurrection, very soon it was obvious that the mission of the gospel should be extended to the Gentiles at the very beginning of the Church’s mission.  To this end, the early Christians looked towards Jesus in the way He ministered to the Gentiles.  At the end of today’s gospel, Jesus remarked, “I tell you that many will come from the east and west to take their places with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven.” Indeed, the Kingdom of God belongs to all, regardless of nations, so long as they have faith.

The centurion was singled out as one who had greater faith than many in Israel! In fact, he was not the only centurion mentioned in the gospel.  The early Church seems to have given much respect to the centurion in the New Testament.  We read of how the centurion was the one who recognized Jesus as the Son of God at His death on the cross.  “Truly this man was God’s Son!”  (Mt 27:54) Then we read of the conversion of Cornelius, the first convert to the Christian Faith.  (Acts 10) When St Paul was being attacked by the rioting mob, a centurion saved Paul.  (Acts 23:17) But what is significant about this centurion was his graciousness, humility and reverence for the Lord even though he was not His disciple.

The centurion’s care for his slave was certainly an exception.   He pleaded with the Lord saying, “Sir, my servant is lying at home paralysed, and in great pain.”  In those days when slaves were treated almost as a non-being, made used of by his or her master as he or she liked.  Clearly, this centurion treated his slave with great love, care and concern.  He would even go out of the way to humble himself, notwithstanding his position, before the Lord, begging Him to come and heal his servant.  He was not too proud to acknowledge the Lord as superior to him, or his inferior position as a gentile.

When our Lord saw his love, his sincerity and humility, His heart was moved. This is true for anyone of us when we see someone who is really humble in asking for a favour.  The immediate response of our Lord was, “I will come myself and cure him.”  Scholars suggest that a better translation would be, “Shall I come and heal him?”  This was because it was not considered appropriate for a Jew to enter the house of a gentile as it would make him unclean.  This barrier was erected by the Jews, not just because of ritual uncleanness but a symbolic way to underscore the greatness of Israel above other nations.   This reality was often rejected, as seen by Jesus’ response to the Samaritan woman, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.”  (Jn 4:22) However, when Jesus asked the centurion this question, it was not so much because He feared He would be contaminated by the gentile, after all, He ate and drank with sinners, tax-collectors and even touched the lepers, but He did it to test the faith of the centurion and to stretch the depth of his humility.

The centurion, recognizing this need to acknowledge the special position of Israel, in humility immediately answered the Lord, “Sir, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; just give the word and my servant will be cured.  For I am under authority myself, and have soldiers under me; and I say to one man: Go, and he goes; to another: Come here, and he comes; to my servant: Do this, and he does it.”   In these words, not only did he affirm Jesus’ authority to heal but that his request was totally insignificant to the Lord in relation to His power to heal.  Hence, he told the Lord there was no need for Him to come in person since He had the authority to heal from where He was and also out of deference and respect for Him as a Jew, to avoid contaminating His ritually.  He reasoned this from his own authority over his soldiers.  As a centurion, he could command only because his authority came from the Roman Emperor.  So too, the Lord could heal as His authority came from the God of Israel!  Such was his faith in the Lord, a faith not even found among Jesus’ own people.  How true also of our own people who are often indifferent to the gospel preached to them!

Truly, if we too have the faith of the centurion, we can be saved and healed by the Lord.  Jesus made it clear that the Messianic banquet was not only for the Jews but all who have faith like the centurion.  The key to enter the kingdom of God is more than just membership alone.  It is not enough to be Catholic, unless we have a deep relationship with the Lord and live the life of the gospel.  We too might suffer the same fate of the Jews; be shut out of the kingdom if we take our faith for granted.  Like many of our nominal Catholics, we will not be able to welcome Christ when He comes because we cannot recognize His presence in the poor, the suffering, the lonely and among our loved ones.

Most of all, today, we are called to bring the gospel to all the nations.  The Centurion foreshadows the conversion of gentiles into the faith. The Church, in preparing for the coming of Christ, must reach out to those who do not yet know Him.  We can be so myopic, forgetting that the gospel must go beyond the walls of our churches and our parish boundaries.  It is not enough just to save those who are already saved and know Christ, but we should be courageous and share our faith by word and deed with those communities and people who have yet to hear the gospel.  The ironical thing is that those who hear the gospel for the first time recognize the Lord’s presence more than many of us who are supposedly going to church and receiving the sacraments because we have become complacent.


Written by His Eminence, Cardinal William SC Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved. The contents of this page may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission from the Archbishop’s Office. This includes extracts, quotations, and summaries.


Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
  • Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
  • Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
  • It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.

Note: You may share this reflection with someone. However, please note that reflections are not archived online nor will they be available via email request.

27 November, 2022, Sunday, 1st Week of Advent

November 28, 2022

There is so much division and tension in the world today. In spite of mass communication, internet and globalization, advanced technology and science, better living conditions, facilities and luxuries compared to the time of our forefathers, this world is getting more and more dangerous to live in. Today, we live in fear not knowing how safe we are. With terrorist activities rampant in the world, we do not know when we will be attacked as well. That is why the government is asking us to be alert to the possibility of terrorist attacks which can come from anywhere and any person when we least expect it. The government is working not just on prevention, but preparing us for the aftermath of a terrorist attack, for the truth is that there is no full proof prevention. Be alert, is the message of the government.

Why is the world getting more unsafe? This is because our peoples are divided. We see the world getting more and more polarized. We have witnessed this situation in the West. The recent Brexit and US election have much to teach us about the cultural and moral divide among peoples. The liberals who have been pushing their agenda on the redefinition of the family, marriage and other values are seeing a push-back from the conservatives of society who until then had been silent. Indeed, because of relativism, there is no more basis to hold our peoples united in love and in truth.

We no longer know what is truth today, what is right or wrong. Although we have acquired more knowledge and information, we have less clarity and wisdom. Many of us do not know what to make of all the knowledge we have acquired because the views held are so diverse and convincing that the ordinary person is paralyzed by the varied opinions. This is partly the reason for the flowering of the ideology of relativism. Faced with so many views and all seem appealing, one is called to choose whatever version of the ‘truth’ one is attracted to. It is no longer based on what is right or wrong, whether they are objective or not but whether one is inclined to it, since there is no absolute truth.

Indeed, our real challenge today is how do we sift out all the knowledge we have acquired and discern and distinguish what is true and what is masqueraded as truth? How we make use of this knowledge determines our happiness. Without determining what is true, many of our young people are misled into adopting the wrong values in life. We cannot blame them because no one is enlightening them or helping them to discern what is true and false. This explains why some allow themselves to be radicalized by terrorist ideologies. When knowledge falls into the wrong hands, such knowledge can be used in a destructive manner.

Without maturity, too much knowledge can confuse the young person. This is true especially in the area of sex education. Our young people are exposed to sex and pornography at a very tender age. They are encouraged to indulge in the manipulation of their body. The physical aspect of sex is being promoted as the objective in a relationship. The truth is that the physical dimension of the relationship, whilst important, occupies a very little part of the entire relationship, which is about communication, love, sharing, caring, listening and rendering each other support. These more important aspects of the relationship are not underscored. The implications of adultery, infidelity in a relationship and how it impacts on their personal life, dignity, confidence, social life and even our work are never talked about. We are not warned of the consequences for our family and children because of pornography, infidelity and divorce.

Similarly, when technology and science advance without a corresponding advancement in human development, it can be destructive to humanity. It is like a child who has been given the key to a car to drive. Science and technology without the guidance of morality will bring about the dehumanization of the human race. We are already seeing the signs when the dignity of the human person is not respected by science. Destruction of human embryos, manipulation of the genes of the human person, cloning and euthanasia are promoted without considering the implications for the future of humanity besides the dignity of the human person. On the international front, the rise of armament and chemical weapons, the use of nuclear weapons are threats to the existence and peaceful co-existence of humanity. The tragedy is that those who are advancing the cause of science and technology are not seeing beyond what they do, particularly the social and moral implications for the future of humanity.

The world is living in darkness, as St Paul mentioned in the second reading. They do things under cover in the dark, indulging in quarrelling, fighting, drinking and licentiousness. Hence, the call to vigilance in today’s scripture readings is the theme of our celebration. “Stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming.” As we enter into the First Sunday of Advent, we are called to prepare for the Coming of the Lord. Although, the gospel speaks of Christ coming at the end of timeChrist’s coming is happening every day.

We need to be watchful at all times, like the householder. Unless we are alert and vigilant, the negative trends of society today can become so overwhelming that they dominate and control our peoples. Indeed, if we are not watchful of how the selfish, self-centred and materialistic values are being promoted by society, as expressed in the attempts to reformulate the definition of marriage and family, and the use of science and technology, we will find ourselves overwhelmed by the values of the world. When that time comes, we will be too helpless even to safeguard our family and children and their future.

So we cannot afford to be indifferent. We cannot ignore the signals and the current trends of society as if they have nothing to do with us. Society is the product of man and man is the product of society. How we want our society to be organized and formed, depends on every individual playing his or her part in informing the world about the kind of values we subscribe to and want to promote. Either we leave our future in the hands of ignorant people who lead our society to division, degeneration and decadence, or we seek to change the course of society by being alert, proactive and contribute to steering the moral values of our society. We must be discerning and watchful for the sake of the future of our children and humanity.

How, then, can we be vigilant? We must take our compass from the Lord not from the world. This is what Isaiah prophesied. “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the Temple of the God of Jacob that he may teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths.” So long as we become the norm and the judge of what is right or wrong, we can never agree among ourselves. This is the outcome of relativism because it rejects God as the absolute truth. Truth can only be found in God alone. Only God can teach us what is true. What the world, and even our Catholics, is doing is to find the answers to the truth on the internet and what others say or think, rather than what God is saying in the scriptures. Our reference point and moral compass cannot be the values and reasoning of the world but from God alone.

If we found our values in God, then we will be united in truth and love. If the world is divided it is because truth is founded in human subjectivity. Since none of us can agree on what is true, we remain divided. The unity and peace of the world remains superficial and fragile because it is not founded on truth but on tolerance and false compromises. Only truth can unite us.

The fullness of truth and defence against errors is found in Jesus Christ. In Him alone, do we find the way to life! Hence, St Paul urges us, “Let your armour be the Lord Jesus Christ.” Indeed, we are to put on the Lord in our battle against the evil forces and negative trends in society. Let Jesus be our armour and safeguard against the darkness of society. We need to strengthen our faith in the Lord and understand the moral teachings of the gospel and of the Church. Without a firm foundation in the Word of God and the teachings of the Church and a strong relationship with Christ, we cannot shield ourselves from the onslaught of the world.

Indeed, this is the cry of the prophet, “O House of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” How can we be sure that we are walking in the light of truth and love? When we are no longer ashamed of what we normally do in the dark. Evil deeds are always done under cover because they are shameful deeds. When we stop rationalizing and follow the voice of our conscience, we know we are walking in the truth. Truth needs no justification or defence. Truth speaks for itself. The effects of our values manifest truth. We know whether the gospel is true or not by analysing the effects of the values of society on the integrity of the individual, happiness and the strength of our family, unity of our society and the world.


Written by His Eminence, Cardinal William SC Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved. The contents of this page may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission from the Archbishop’s Office. This includes extracts, quotations, and summaries.


Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
  • Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
  • Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
  • It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.

Note: You may share this reflection with someone. However, please note that reflections are not archived online nor will they be available via email request.

25 November, 2022, Friday, 34th Week in Ordinary Time

November 25, 2022

THE ETERNAL REIGN OF GOD

The mission of Jesus on earth was to establish the Kingdom of God.  The teachings of Jesus, especially the parables of the Kingdom are focused on establishing the reign of God on earth.  The miracles of Jesus are signs that God reigns on earth.  The death and resurrection of our Lord establishes the Kingdom of God definitively when Jesus conquered hatred, sin, death and rose to new life.   Consequently, as we reach the end of the liturgical year, the Church seeks to show how the kingdom of God will eventually be established in the world.  This happens “when all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.”  (1 Cor 15:28)

But how will this come about?  There are a few views with respect how the kingdom of God will be eventually established based on the revelation of St John.  He wrote that Christ “overpowered the dragon, the primeval serpent which is the devil and Satan, and chained him up for a thousand years.  He threw him into the Abyss, and shut the entrance and sealed it over him, to make sure he would not deceive the nations again until the thousand years had passed.  At the end of that time he must be released, but only for a short while.”   In the first view, some hold that the Church would have a thousand years of peace before the Second Coming of Christ.  Another view holds that after the Second Coming of Christ, the Church will continue for another thousand years of peace before Satan is released for a while before the final testing of all who are worthy to enter the kingdom of God.  Then there is the historical view which claims that the thousand years had already taken place after the time of persecution of the Roman Empire in the 4th century until the Middle Ages when corruption set in and the Church was divided because of the Reformation.

Whichever view one holds, what is important is to maintain that God reigns in our hearts. The reign of God is a reign of love, peace, and unity.  This was what St John visualized.  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; the first heaven and the first earth had disappeared now, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the holy city, and the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, as beautiful as a bride all dressed for her husband.”   Heaven is not a place where one goes to, rather it is primarily a state when God dwells in our hearts.

This is beautifully expressed in the responsorial psalm.  “Here God lives among men.  My soul is longing and yearning, is yearning for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my soul ring out their joy to God, the living God. The sparrow herself finds a home and the swallow a nest for her brood; she lays her young by your altars, Lord of hosts, my king and my God. They are happy, who dwell in your house, for ever singing your praise. They are happy, whose strength is in you. They walk with ever growing strength.”

In the teaching of the Church, Vatican II describes the final outcome of the world in similar terms.  “We do not know the time for the consummation of the earth and of humanity, nor do we know how all things will be transformed. As deformed by sin, the shape of this world will pass away; but we are taught that God is preparing a new dwelling place and a new earth where justice will abide, and whose blessedness will answer and surpass all the longings for peace which spring up in the human heart. Then, with death overcome, the sons of God will be raised up in Christ, and what was sown in weakness and corruption will be invested with incorruptibility. Enduring with charity and its fruits, all that creation which God made on man’s account will be unchained from the bondage of vanity.”  (Gaudium et spes, 39)

Indeed, the Kingdom of God is established when the following situations have taken place.  Firstly, those who have allowed the Lord to be the center of their lives and their all.  Such people are the saints and martyrs who gave their entire life to the Lord.  “I saw the souls of all who had been beheaded for having witnessed for Jesus and for having preached God’s word, and those who refused to worship the beast or his statue and would not have the brand-mark on their foreheads or hands; they came to life, and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”  For these martyrs, they have been so identified with Christ in life and in death, that they are now worthy to be marked with the sign of the Cross.

Secondly, the kingdom of God is established when evil is overcome by good.  This is why St John spoke about the judgement at the end of time.  He wrote, “I saw the dead, both great and small, standing in front of his throne, while the book of life was opened, and other books opened which were the record of what they had done in their lives, by which the dead were judged.”   Those who have done good will find justice and peace.  This is what the Lord said, “those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”  (Jn 5:29) We will be judged according to how we live our lives, how much we love our fellowmen and serve the poor, the least of our brothers and sisters.  (cf Mt 25:31-46)  Again this is envisioned in Vatican II when it teaches,  “For after we have obeyed the Lord, and in His Spirit nurtured on earth the values of human dignity, brotherhood and freedom, and indeed all the good fruits of our nature and enterprise, we will find them again, but freed of stain, burnished and transfigured, when Christ hands over to the Father: ‘a kingdom eternal and universal, a kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace.’  On this earth that Kingdom is already present in mystery. When the Lord returns it will be brought into full flower.”  (GS 39)

Thirdly, it depends at the end of the day on whether we are in good relationship with the Lord. We must not think that salvation is merely by good works.  Rather, the good works we do are but the expression of our union with Christ and with God in love and service.  We are judged not principally by good works unless they spring from our love for God and in Christ.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”  (Eph 2:8-10) So even when our good works are not perfected, it does not mean that we will be condemned.  Rather, good works serve as indicators of how much we are in union with the Lord in mind and heart, for they are the fruits of our love for Him.

Finally, all that we can be certain is that when the Kingdom of God is finally established, sin and death will be totally overcome.  “The sea gave up all the dead who were in it; Death and Hades were emptied of the dead that were in them; and every one was judged according to the way in which he had lived.  Then burning lake is the second death; and anybody whose name could not be found written in the book of life was thrown into the burning lake.”  Similarly, St Paul also confirms this truth when he wrote, “Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”  (1 Cor 15:24-26) Truly, when the whole creation is subjected to Christ and He rules in the hearts and minds of all, then we know that God dwells in man once again.

That is why we have the beautiful imagery of the new paradise that was destroyed by sin.  The new heaven and earth replace the old heaven and earth which was tarnished by sin.  The Church becomes the New Jerusalem where God dwells and we become the bride of Christ “all dressed for her husband.”  Heaven is portrayed as a state of love and bliss.  No greater joy can we have than to dwell in the House of the Lord, in His bosom!   So when will the kingdom of God come?  Jesus told His disciples a parable. “Think of the fig tree and indeed every tree.  As soon as you see them bud, you know that summer in now near.  So with you see these things happening: know that the kingdom of God is near.  I tell you solemnly, before this generation has passed away all will have taken place.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”  Let us then work with the grace of God for these signs of love, justice, and peace to be present on earth, thereby ushering the final establishment of God’s kingdom.


Written by His Eminence, Cardinal William SC Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved. The contents of this page may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission from the Archbishop’s Office. This includes extracts, quotations, and summaries.


Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
  • Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
  • Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
  • It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.

Note: You may share this reflection with someone. However, please note that reflections are not archived online nor will they be available via email request.

24 November, 2022, Thursday, 34th Week in Ordinary Time

November 24, 2022

VICTORY OVER EVIL AND LIBERATION FOR THE JUST

For us to appreciate today’s scripture readings, we need to highlight two significant words in the first reading.  Firstly, we need to understand the usage of the name, “Babylon”.   We must not forget that at the time of John’s writing, Palestine was under the control of the Roman Empire.  Obviously, John would be looking for trouble if he were to mention Rome directly or even to speak of them as their enemies.  This explains why in the Book of Revelation, he had to employ symbols that were familiar to the Jews but not to others.

The Roman Empire was paralleled to the then merciless and powerful Babylonian Empire.  Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians.  They were led into exile in 586 B.C.   They lost everything, including their Temple.  Babylon too was an evil city, a centre for idol worship.  The people lived immoral lives, cheating, engaging in prostitution and sensual living.  Just as Babylon was the scourge of Israel, so too was Rome.  Babylon therefore was used by John as a symbol of Rome and all the enemies of the early Christians.

The other word that John used to describe the situation during the time of the early Christians was their struggle against “the famous prostitute who corrupted the earth with her fornication.”  This prostitute refers to the seductiveness of the world.  Rome, like Babylon, had succumbed to the temptations of the world, power, glory, sex, wealth and materialism. Indeed, those in government, in business and even in religion were seduced by the worldly things of this world and engaged in dishonest and immoral living.  Of course, this is still happening in our times when businesses use bribery, sex, food and luxuries to tempt people into buying their products or to cooperate with them.

What happened during the time of John is still relevant in our times.   The Babylon of our days is secularism and relativism.  When man creates gods, supplanting the place of the Almighty God, this is the beginning of disorder.   To think that we are gods and the ultimate in life is a lie.  We know that we are contingent beings.   We come from somewhere and at the end of time, we will have to die.  So to make ourselves the absolute in life, when everything is dependent on what we think and what we like, then, in that sense we have made ourselves gods.  The Church today seeks to defend her faith against secularism where God is denied, and relativism when truth and love are confused.  Indeed, in relativism, man makes himself the judge of all norms.  He is a norm unto himself.  He accepts no one’s opinions unless others agree with him.

Secondly, the Church is also facing the “famous prostitute” of the early Christians.  It is materialism.  When God is removed from society, when man is reduced to an animal, he becomes materialistic.  He lives a self-indulgent life, seeking to satisfy his bodily and sensual needs.  His life is one of pleasure and enjoyment.  He is easily tempted not just by the things of this world and the comforts of life; he is also enticed by indecency, sex, power and glory.  Truly, when the soul is denied and the spiritual thirst of the human person is suppressed, it begins to look to the things of this world.  Yet, at the same time, no matter how much man tries to satisfy himself from the things of this world, he finds no fulfilment, simply because nothing in his life or any creature can quench his thirst and hunger.  St Augustine says, “You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our heart can find no rest until it rests in you.”  Since we are created in His likeness and image, only God satisfies the desires of every human heart.  Those who are spiritually connected with God know that the joys of life are the transcendent things, like love, peace, truth and unity.  Only God who is the supreme truth and good can satisfy our hunger.

However, in spite of the dominating trends of the world going in the direction of secularism and relativism, we should not be discouraged.  This is the exhortation of our Lord in the gospel.  Jesus said to His disciples, “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, you must realise that she will soon be laid desolate. Then those in Judaea must escape to the mountains, those inside the city must leave it, and those in country districts must not take refuge in it. For this is the time of vengeance when all that scripture says must be fulfilled.”   This prophecy of Jesus took place in 70 A.D. when a Roman General put Jerusalem under siege before eventually destroying the city.  “They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive to every pagan country; and Jerusalem will be trampled down by the pagans until the age of the pagans is completely over.”   Thousands died during the siege because of famine and the lack of water.  This was all because they did not read the signs of the times.  Instead of living peaceably with the Romans, they planned to revolt against Rome.

So too those who are evil will die by their evil actions.  What we sow is what we reap.  For not living a righteous life, we will die by the very sins we have committed.  For cheating, we go to jail.  For lying, we cause more division in our families, offices and community.  For pampering our body by indulging in food, drink, smoking and drugs, we will suffer from poor health and illnesses causing untold misery and burden to our loved ones who have to look after us.  For indulging in free sex, having multiple partners, sleeping around, visiting prostitutes, we punish ourselves by contracting sexual diseases like AIDs.  For those cohabitating, their relationships remain forever insecure.  For infidelity, we break our families and destroy the future of our children.   We are punished by the very sins we commit.

Indeed, this is what John tells us in the first reading, that evil will be overcome eventually.  He saw the vision of a powerful angel who “picked up a boulder like a great millstone, and as he hurled it into the sea, he said, ‘That is how the great city of Babylon is going to be hurled down, never to be seen again.’”  Those who think so highly of themselves, the mighty and arrogant ones; those without fear and reverence for God and for the Sacred, those who commit all kinds of evil and sin in their lives, judgment is ahead of them. They will see their downfall.  For not taking heed of God’s invitation to repent and to attend the Wedding of the Lamb, they will suffer condemnation.

In the final analysis, no matter how bleak the situation is, we know that God will triumph in the end.  St John wrote, “After this I seemed to hear the great sound of a huge crowd in heaven, singing, ‘Alleluia! Victory and glory and power to our God! He judges fairly, he punishes justly, and he has condemned the famous prostitute who corrupted the earth with her fornication; he has avenged his servants that she killed.’”  This victory is not won by men but by the power of God.  The justice of God will prevail and the truth of God will expose the enemies of truth, those who promote falsehood and deceive the world.

As for those who are faithful to the Lord, the angel said, “Happy are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.”  Indeed, all Christians, like the bride of Christ dressed in white, purified by His blood on the cross and His sacrificial death, will be admitted to the Wedding Feast.  There we will find true union with God in Christ, abundant joy, love and happiness.   As the bride of Christ, we reflect the joy of our Lord in us.   Only in heaven is there complete joy, and the delights of God will satisfy all human hearts and desires.

So until then, “when these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.”   Let us be strong and not give up easily.  The judgment of God will come, even if it is not in our time.  We must trust in the power of God and His divine providence. He alone will determine the end of history.  So with confidence, in trust and faith, we must live our faith according to the gospel as best as we can with His grace.  We leave judgement to God.


Written by His Eminence, Cardinal William SC Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved. The contents of this page may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission from the Archbishop’s Office. This includes extracts, quotations, and summaries.


Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
  • Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
  • Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
  • It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.

Note: You may share this reflection with someone. However, please note that reflections are not archived online nor will they be available via email request.

22 November, 2022, Tuesday, 34th Week in Ordinary Time

November 22, 2022

JUDGEMENT IS INEVITABLE

Today, many people live their lives as if there is no tomorrow.  They have no thought of life after death.  Their concern is only about this life, how to be happy, how to enjoy and how to make the best of it.  Their only thought is to get as much as they can from this short life because once dead, everything is over.  Few people today think of the final judgment that is to come, even though many Catholics profess this as a belief whenever they recite the creed every Sunday that “He will come to judge the living and the dead.”  That is why they tend to live careless, reckless and irresponsible lives.  Unless we are aware of our human mortality, we do not take our lives seriously.   Only those who have undergone near death will begin to realize how fragile our life is.  Perhaps, then we will start thinking of death and begin preparing ourselves.

But today’s scripture readings remind us that judgment is real and is inevitable.  In the first reading, we read of the angel sent by the Lord to reap the harvest of the earth.  Those who live good, honest and faithful lives will of course look forward to this day because it is their day of reward and glory.  Thy will find eternal peace and happiness for all that they did.   On the other hand, those who do evil will also be judged accordingly.  The other angel sent by the Lord this time was to “cut all the branches off the vine of the earth” and “the whole vintage of the earth and put it into a huge winepress, the winepress of God’s anger.” The winepress refers to the judgment of those who are evil.  They would be punished accordingly.

Like the people during the time of Jesus, We also ask “when will this happen, then, and what sign will there be that this is about to take place?”  Jesus makes it clear that the Day of Judgment is not to be mistaken as if it is happening soon because we hear of natural catastrophes or wars and revolutions.  On the contrary, these are things that are happening all the time.  Humanity is being purified and judged at every point of time in history.  Judgement is an ongoing process.  The effects of our deeds, good or bad, will manifest themselves in our history, at times, sooner and at other times, much later.  But when we hear of the consequences of man’s actions, especially evil actions, we should not be surprised.  Nature will unfold itself.  Those of us who do not live according to the laws of nature will suffer the backlash.

This is what is happening in the world today, whether it is ecology of creation and nature; or of human ecology when the natural laws of life are not respected.  Indeed, because humanity has tampered with the natural laws through the use science and technology without consideration for the moral and ethical consequences, humanity will ultimately destroy itself.  We see this in those countries that promoted a one-child policy, and the effects of an affluent society on our marriages and families as well as our health.

Finally, the last judgement is inevitable upon our death.  The truth is that at the point of death, our lives will be totally transparent before God and ourselves.  We will call to mind all that we have done and said.  We will come to discover our hidden intentions and motives for all our actions.  Most of all, we will see the effects of our actions, especially evil deeds on our loved ones, our children, and children’s children; and society at large.   Whilst the body can suffer decadence and corruption, the mind, which is our soul, continues to be at work in us.  When we come to realize the immense pain and sufferings we have caused to others, we will be brought to shame and guilt.

Purgatory is precisely that state when we cannot forgive ourselves or those who have hurt us.  Hell is when we are so ashamed of ourselves that we do not even want to meet God who is always forgiving us.  Our pride will hinder us from asking for forgiveness and healing.  However, if we have done good, we will also see the positive effects of our deeds.  Looking at the fruitful results of our actions, we are delighted that we have made a difference in the lives of our fellowmen and we have served God, Church and society.  We will not have any regrets and we can therefore return to God.

Thus, we must be watchful and be realistic that nothing on this earth can last.  No matter how much money we have and how much material things we own, all these will pass and we cannot take them with us.  This is the warning of Jesus when He reminded the people who were admiring the Temple, “remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings.”  This Temple was not Solomon’s Temple but the one rebuilt after the exile by Ezra.  It was then desecrated by the Seleucids but later expanded by Herod the Great over a 46 year period.  It was considered a great achievement and the pride of the Jews.  But Jesus was upfront.  He said, “All these things you are staring at now – the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another: everything will be destroyed.”  This prophecy was fulfilled in A.D. 70 when the Roman army demolished it completely.  In other words, no structure on this earth can last regardless how majestic a monument or a structure it might be.

So instead of worrying about all the rumours about the end of the world, it is more fruitful for us to pay attention to ourselves, to the Temple of God that we belong to.  We must live our lives ever ready to face judgement at any point of our life.  Judgement and retribution can happen in this life or in the next.   So it is important that we be prepared at all times.   This means that we should be more concerned about looking after ourselves, the Temple of God.  By our baptism, we are all one in the Body of Christ in whom His Spirit lives.  Therefore to look after the Temple of God, we must adorn it with good works, good deeds, love, mercy and forgiveness.  Unless, we keep our Temple clean and free from sin and evil, we will not be ready to meet the Lord or face the consequences of our actions.

Indeed, the responsorial psalm tells us that God is a just God. “The Lord comes to rule the earth.  Proclaim to the nations: ‘God is king.’ The world he made firm in its place; he will judge the peoples in fairness. Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad, let the sea and all within it thunder praise.  Let the land and all it bears rejoice, all the trees of the wood shout for joy at the presence of the Lord for he comes, he comes to rule the earth. With justice he will rule the world; he will judge the peoples with his truth.”  This God of love is also a God of justice.  He is ultimately in control of the world.  We must trust Him and be receptive to His rule in our lives.  To allow God to rule our lives is what the establishment of the Kingdom of God is all about.  To have God reign in our hearts means to ensure that justice, righteousness, truth, love and mercy prevail in our lives.

Accordingly, we need to use what the Lord has given to us for the service of others.  At the end of the day, we will be asked whether we have used the resources that God has blessed us with solely for ourselves or for the greater good of others.  God has blessed us with many gifts.  What we are today is the result of God’s bountiful love.  So we must use them to bless others.   This is where we situate the meaning of service.  We must use our blessings to bring about a better society and a more vibrant Church.  In this way, we can also share in the harvest of God, as we bring the fruits of our labour to Christ.   When we live good lives, when our conscience is clear because we know we have done all we could for Church, family and society, we need not be too anxious about the end of the world or the judgement day.  Judgement for us becomes a day of liberation, not punishment; a day of reward, not condemnation.  We can live our days in peace, knowing that we are prepared to answer before the Lord at any point of time when He calls us.


Written by His Eminence, Cardinal William SC Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved. The contents of this page may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission from the Archbishop’s Office. This includes extracts, quotations, and summaries.


Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
  • Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
  • Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
  • It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.

Note: You may share this reflection with someone. However, please note that reflections are not archived online nor will they be available via email request.

21 November, 2022, Monday, Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

November 21, 2022

HOLINESS A GIFT AND A TASK

The Feast of the Presentation of our Lady is celebrated more by the Eastern Church than the Latin Church.  It was celebrated as early as the 6th century in Jerusalem when a church was built to commemorate this mystery in the life of Mary.  In fact, the Western Church began to celebrate this feast only in the 11th century, and it even disappeared after some time until it resurfaced to be celebrated with the rank of a “memoria” in the universal Church.  The most likely reason why this event is not celebrated as a Feast in the liturgical calendar is due to the fact that it is not recorded in scriptures except in the apocryphal literature, which is considered ‘unhistorical’.  The Protoevangelium of James tells us that Anne and Joachim offered Mary to God in the Temple when she was three years old, fulfilling a promise made to God when Anne was still childless.

Why does the Church then celebrate this event when it is judged to be dubious?  The truth is that regardless of the historicity of this event, the theological significance is of great importance to the Church.  The verifiability of this event might not be established but it does underscore that God graced Mary from the beginning so that she could make an effective response to the invitation of God to be the mother of Jesus.  By so doing, it reinforces the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the Incarnation and the Assumption.  What this mystery celebrates is that the grace of God was with Mary right from the start of her life, including her childhood, and continues right through to the last days of her life.

That Mary was graced and blessed by God is what the first reading from the prophet Zechariah wants to underscore.  Mary, who is considered the mother of the Church, a member of the Anawim, the poor of Israel, the daughter of Zion, was given the promise of God that He would dwell in her.  She would be the temple of God, not made by human hands but by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. “Sing, rejoice, daughter of Zion; for I am coming to dwell in the middle of you.”   Of course, the Church wants to underscore that holiness is not human effort alone but by the grace of God.  This agrees with the Protestants’ fundamental doctrine of justification by grace alone.

This is what we also profess, that Mary was also graced by God unconditionally and justified at her conception.  The prophet said, “But the Lord will hold Judah as his portion in the Holy Land, and again make Jerusalem his very own. Let all mankind be silent before the Lord! For he is awakening and is coming from his holy dwelling.”  This, too, was what Mary proclaimed in the Magnificat when she said, “My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.  The Almighty works marvels for me. Holy is his name! He looks on his servant in her nothingness; henceforth all ages will call me blessed. The Almighty works marvels for me. Holy his name!”  Nowhere and never did Mary claim holiness because of her merits.  It was all the grace of God.  This truth must be reiterated.  Mary was first and foremost holy because of the primacy of grace, not good works.

But how can we be so sure? We can see from the effects of the grace of God in her life.  The gift of holiness, whilst totally dependent on the grace of God, also calls for our cooperation.  We cannot just speak of God’s grace without human cooperation or at least a human response.  God created us in freedom to accept or reject His love and His grace.  God does not impose His love on us.  It is true in any friendship.  We can only offer our gift of friendship or assistance, but if the recipient does not respond, there is nothing we can do except to continue loving them till one day they can find the capacity to respond.  In the case of Mary, she was always docile to the grace of God.  That is why God’s grace worked marvellously in her life, producing in her a New Creation and for us, the mother of grace.

Indeed, we can certainly see how at every step of her life, Mary said “Yes” to God.  She was always docile to the will of God.  “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.  Let it be done to me according to your word.”  (LK 1:38) In today’s gospel, Jesus praised Mary to be the model of one who does the Word of God.  She is most fit to be the mother of Jesus because she is one who hears the Word of God and does it. Jesus said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother.”   Anyone who is a true disciple of the Lord is a relative of Jesus.  For Mary, because she conceived the Word of God in her heart, she could also conceive Jesus in the flesh.  Without which, she would not have been able to give a positive response to the Angel’s invitation to accept God’s call for her to be the mother of Jesus.

The feast of the Presentation of Mary therefore declares that Mary, graced from her conception, lived out her entire life in cooperation with God’s grace by doing His will.   Hence, she was consecrated to God and given to Him for His service.  The Presentation of Mary at the Temple therefore is symbolic even if it might not be historical that Mary was always one with God in everything, seeking and endeavouring to do His holy will, even sharing in Christ’s sufferings in His ministry, passion and death on the cross.

What does it mean for us?  We, too, whilst not graced at our conception like Mary, are also given the same grace of God at our baptism.  Through the sacrament of baptism, we are configured in Christ, and the Holy Spirit also overshadows and dwells in us. We too have been given the grace of God to grow in holiness.  We did not merit anything to be baptized.  Baptism is a gift from Christ and His Church.   Baptism is also a call to holiness of life.  Once baptized, we are consecrated to God, like Mary.   But like Mary, what do we do with the grace of God received at baptism?  Not only at baptism, but also at the Eucharist, confirmation, matrimony or ordination.  Have we cooperated with the grace of God?  Mary was not just a recipient of grace but she received the grace to be a good disciple of our Lord.  Could what was said of Mary be said of us, that we hear the Word of God and act on it?  Unless we cooperate with God’s grace given to us through the sacraments we receive, then we would have received the grace of God in vain.

Consequently, in celebrating this mystery of our Lady, we must re-consecrate ourselves to the Lord.  We must seek to grow the grace of holiness given to us at baptism and allow this grace to flourish, deepen and strengthen over the years of our lives.  We must dedicate ourselves to be a true disciple of the Lord by listening and contemplating on His word, imbibing in them like Mary, pondering it in our hearts so that His word could be given birth in life- giving actions in daily living.   Only by living out the life of Mary at every stage of our life could we say that we have truly cooperated with the grace of God given to us at baptism and this gift continues through the rest of our lives.

Secondly, it behoves us to pay attention to the importance of formation of young people, especially children under our care.  The grace of God works on them not when they have grown up and become adults.  Rather, it is already at work in their lives from the moment they were conceived in the womb of their mothers.  So it is important that right from the start, they must already feel the love of God in their being, through their mothers’ love and nurturing disposition.  We must teach our children at a very tender age to learn how to talk to Jesus, how to bring Jesus into their lives.  No one is too young to pray to Jesus.  We must teach them how to love and how to serve God and do His will.  If we plant these seeds in them, then we are actually helping them to grow the grace of God in them.

But what better way to help the grace of God to unfold in our children than the way Anne and Joachim helped Mary to develop the grace of God within her?  We must walk the talk.  We must set the example.  We must first take holiness of life seriously.  No one is converted by words alone but by example.  Let us be mentors of those who have consecrated their lives to Jesus.  Let us be examples of holiness in word and deed.


Written by His Eminence, Cardinal William SC Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved. The contents of this page may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission from the Archbishop’s Office. This includes extracts, quotations, and summaries.


Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
  • Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
  • Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
  • It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.

Note: You may share this reflection with someone. However, please note that reflections are not archived online nor will they be available via email request.

20 November, 2022, Sunday, Christ the King

November 20, 2022

Today we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King.  Unlike earthly kings, Christ’s kingdom is not measured in terms of territory under His control.  Christ Himself is the Kingdom of God.  Christ’s kingdom encompasses everything and everyone.  He is the king of our hearts and our minds.  In Him, God is present.  Indeed, as St Paul in the second reading wrote, “He is the image of the unseen God and the first-born of all creation, for in him were created all things in heaven and on earth: everything visible and everything invisible, Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, Powers – all things were created through him and for him. Before anything was created, he existed, and he holds all things in unity.”   When the good thief asked Jesus, “‘remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ ‘Indeed, I promise you,’ he replied, ‘today you will be with me in paradise.’”  The Kingdom of God is identical with our Lord.  To be with Jesus is to be in the Kingdom.

Today, we too must invite Jesus to be our King just as the Israelites did in the first reading.  The tribes of Israel came to King David who was then King of Judah and said to him, “Look, we are your own flesh and blood. In days past when Saul was our king, it was you who led Israel in all their exploits; and the Lord said to you, ‘You are the man who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you shall be the leader of Israel.’  So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a pact with them at Hebron in the presence of the Lord, and they anointed David king of Israel.”  We, too, by virtue of our baptism consciously accept Jesus as our King.  At our baptism, we are anointed to be another Christ and thus are made members of His royal priesthood, called to be prophets and kings.  All of us are to be at the service of Christ’s Lordship. However, it is more than just lip service to Christ’s kingship over us.

How is Jesus our king unless He rules our minds and our hearts?  Accepting Christ as our king entails that we live under His rule, that is, governed by His precepts as enshrined in the Word of God.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  In other words, the kingdom of God is present in anyone who allows Jesus to reign in his heart and mind.  St Paul wrote, “Now the Church is his body, he is its head. As he is the Beginning, he was first to be born from the dead, so that he should be first in every way; because God wanted all perfection to be found in him.”  In Christ, we are perfected as His subjects.  Living by His gospel and His values, Christ reigns in us.

This requires us to give up sins.  We must not pay lip service in saying that Christ is our King when we seek to do our will and, most of all live, a life contrary to the gospel.  To acknowledge our Lord’s kingship is to do what He asks of us.  We must put an end to sin, especially selfishness and pride.  We must no longer live in darkness as the world does, not knowing what is right or wrong, whether truth can be found or who we are in our identity and where we are destined after life on earth.  St Paul wrote, “We give thanks to the Father who has made it possible for you to join the saints and with them to inherit the light. Because that is what he has done: he has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son that he loves, and in him, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins.”  Christ is the one who brings about our forgiveness of our sins.  He sets us free from condemnation.  He shows us the way and the light to live our lives in truth and charity.

Yet, being true subjects of Christ in this world is never easy.  We will be challenged and we will be put on trial like our Lord before Pontius Pilate and finally at the cross.  The stark reality is that if we want to be popular with the world and gain acceptance, then we are called to be like the rest of the world, denying the truth.  To be part of the world, we are expected to live a worldly life, to indulge in worldly entertainment, to believe that everything is permissible so long as it is not a crime.  Of course, governments no longer see themselves as keepers of society’s morality but only act when others get hurt.  These sins are “labelled” as crimes.  But other than that, if one just contaminates one’s mind and heart, it is your private business.

That is why, the acid test of whether we are subjects of Christ is whether we are ready to stand up for what we believe and what He taught us in the scriptures.  This will involve rejection and ridicule.  The world is looking for every opportunity to discredit our faith and our beliefs.  Of course, the fact that Christians, as Pope Francis tells us, must be in the battlefield, cannot but also get wounded and injured in the process of witnessing.  Living in a promiscuous, permissive and materialistic society, some of our Catholics, including priests and bishops, have fallen to the snares of the world.  This only makes our witnessing less credible because the world is too happy to show the hypocrisy of what we say and what we do, thereby discrediting us.  Otherwise, they will go on the offensive and attack our values and our beliefs.

This was what happened to our Lord in today’s gospel.  His kingship was put to the test when He hanged on the cross.   Christ was also mocked and ridiculed by His enemies.  They tried to discredit Jesus and denied Him of His kingship.  The leaders jeered at Him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” The soldiers mocked him too and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”  Even one of the criminals hanging there abused him. He said, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us as well.”  In other words, they were all saying the same thing, “You are not credible!  You are where you are because you are dishonest, a liar and there is no truth in what you claim to be.  You are there on the cross because of your doing.  It has nothing to do with us who condemn and expose you.”  In other words, Jesus deserved His just due because He asked for it.

And yet the ultimate proof that we are His subjects and Christ is our King is when we have the courage to reign with Him on the cross.  Jesus did not react or retaliate against His enemies.  He chose to hang on the cross.  He reigns from the cross because He was willing to pay the price for truth.  He was truly the “king of the Jews” as accused.  He welcomed the good thief into His kingdom.  Through His suffering on the cross, He revealed the depth of God’s love and mercy for all of us who are ignorant of our sins.  Death is the greatest act of love anyone can give to another.  At the cross, love triumphs over sin, life over death.  Indeed, clearly, we are “reconciled through him and for him, everything in heaven and everything on earth, when he made peace by his death on the cross.”

This was what Peter and the apostles initially could not accept.  They could not accept His death and the idea of a crucified Messiah.  He wanted to save Jesus from being killed.  It was when they realized that only Jesus could save them, rather than they save Jesus, that they gave Him up to the cross.  For it would be from the cross that the Lord would save them and His people.  Participation in His cross is the only way to save the world.  If we truly share in Christ’s Lordship, then we must also share in His suffering and abasement.  Unless we are ready to undergo the scandal of the cross, Jesus is not yet our Lord.  Jesus can only build His church on the rock of our faith in the cross.  Indeed, the Church’s rock is the paschal faith which we hold, for by surrendering to the cross in obedience, we will rise from the dead to new life.

We are invited to follow Mary and the women who stood at the foot of the cross.  We must stay with Jesus in proclaiming the truth even when rejected, do good even when taken advantage of, forgive even when we have been unjustly treated.  We must do this not just for ourselves but for the world as we give witness to Him.  Only when we align ourselves with the cross of Jesus, can we reveal the mercy and power of God to the world resting on Him alone.  

We are called to be like the Good Thief in confessing in Christ’s kingship.  The Good Thief saw the divine glory in Christ even though hidden by the cross.  Indeed, we might seem foolish in the world but on the cross, we see nothing of pride and arrogance but only the humility of God in Christ.  We are called to see the power of God in our weakness, in our suffering and in our trials in life.  Christ is known not through philosophy, even though it comprises knowledge and wisdom.  We only have to contemplate on the passion of Christ crucified to be moved to love Him and to repent of our sins.  It is our contemplation on the passion of Christ, the King who rules from the cross that can motivate us to live for Him and in Him.  Like the psalmist, we can then say, “I rejoiced when I heard them say: ‘Let us go to God’s house.’ And now our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is built as a city strongly compact.  It is there that the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord.”  When we are with the Lord and the Lord is with us, we will remain strong in our trials and the challenges of life.


Written by His Eminence, Cardinal William SC Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved. The contents of this page may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission from the Archbishop’s Office. This includes extracts, quotations, and summaries.


Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
  • Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
  • Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
  • It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.

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Bible

If you love me, you will keep my commandments.