Thursday, December 30, 2021

Mihi Testes | My Witnesses

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” — Acts 1:8 (NIV) 

The words of the Lord Jesus above were said before He was taken up into Heaven. It was when He had finished a tremendously severe suffering - He died but rose in three days to redeem and secure places in the kingdom of God for those who believe in Him (v.3).

Jesus said for His disciples at that time that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came and become His witnesses to the ends of the earth (v.8). And they did. With the power of the Holy Spirit they became Jesus Christ’s witnesses, bold and clear, everywhere they could go.

How about us, the Christians in this era. Christians mostly come to church but that’s it. We are shy even hesitate to express our gratitude to the Lord in front of others. There are so many of us live so comfortably without any urge to witness about Christ or Christianity.  Let alone to confess that we are sinful and need God’s intervention. Many times we neglect the whisper of the Holy Spirit.

Being a witness of Christ is seen not only in our deeds but also in our words. “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10:10, NIV). Often we are nice to others, but only a few of us want to talk or write witnessing how great Jesus is. As a Christian, what hinders you from proclaiming Christ and His work? 

May God help us all. Amen.

Reflection on Acts 1:1-8 by Desire Litaay 
(Listen to the Podcast here)

Monday, December 27, 2021

Benedictio Christi | Blessing of Christ

"I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ." — Romans 15: 29 

Reflecting on the beautiful exhortations by St. Paul, to the church in Rome, each of us have been richly blessed by God through Christ. It's our God-given duty as sons and daughters of the God of Blessings to be a blessing in our communities and families, so that His Name be glorified on earth. Just as God had promised to Abram in the Old Testament when He made a binding Promise which was ultimately fulfilled by the first coming of Christ over 2000 years ago. First to the tribe of Israel and subsequently through the apostolic commissioning of His apostles to bring the gospel of Christ to the ends of the earth. It was beautifully foretold by prophet Isaiah 600 years before Christ's Immaculate Conception through a young Virgin Mary, and confirmed in our Lord's own Words:

"I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Genesis 12:2-3)

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14)

Jesus said: "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am."  (John 8:58)

He not just says that He existed before Abraham existed 2000 years ago. He also calls himself 'I am', which is the name of God, and Immanuel or Emmanuel, in Isaiah 7 also has the meaning of "God with us".

Considering God's great revelations of His Salvific Plan through Christ Jesus, how can I as a son of God, and co-heir with Christ Jesus in His glorious inheritance keep this beautiful Promise and Gift to myself and not share it with others who have yet to see His Light? This is the true meaning of Christmas, that God gave His One and only Son for our sins and the penalty of sin, which is death, and it's not just about the gifts exchange or lavish feasting.

My question to all of us here as beloved and blessed brothers & sisters-in-Christ, how can I help to refresh other believers and bear the love of Christ to those who are suffering and pining for God's Light in this Christmas season and the new year ahead with untold challenges from the dreaded Covid-19 virus and its mutations?

Just as St. Paul wrote in verses 32-33, "so that I may come to you with joy, by God's will, and in your company be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all". Amen.

I will close with this beautiful Hymn – O Holy Night


Verse 1

O Holy night! The stars are brightly shining

It is the night of our dear Savior's birth

Long lay the world in sin and error pining

'Til He appears and the soul felt its worth

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

Fall on your knees; O hear the Angel voices!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born

O night, O Holy night, O night divine!


Verse 2

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming

With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand

So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming

Here come the Wise Men from Orient land

The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger

In all our trials born to be our friend

He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger

Behold your King; before Him lowly bend

Behold your King; before Him lowly bend


Verse 3

Truly He taught us to love one another;

His law is love and His Gospel is Peace

Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother

And in His name, all oppression shall cease

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we

Let all within us Praise His Holy name

Christ is the Lord; O praise His name forever!

His power and glory evermore proclaim

His power and glory evermore proclaim

Reflection on Romans 15:22-33 by Chris Tan

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Abundetis in spe | Abound in hope

"So that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" — Romans 15:13 (ESV).

Photo by fancycrave1 from Pixabay

Christmas is coming. For us Christians, it is a special day each year. Christmas means hope. We know that Christmas starts with the power of the Holy Spirit. Blessed Mary received divine grace. She believed that the word of God was true and real. She abounded in faith, hope, and love. In her body the Word became flesh.

Thus all the Gentiles could recognize their Lord in the little child who was born in Bethlehem. All the people who met him rejoiced and extolled him. All the weak and sinful people experienced peace in their hearts.

We are also able to open our hearts to the coming of Jesus Christ. Especially now during Christmas time of 2021 in our concrete reality and circumstances. We do need hope, peace, and love which flourished in the life of the holy family in Bethlehem. We do long for God's truthfulness in the world of distrust, hate, and anxiety. 

Let us welcome one another in the spirit of Christmas. Let us understand that the promises of God are precious and certain. Let us glorify God for his mercy towards humanity. For God the Father keeps sending his holy angels who announce hope, peace, and love. As Christians, we ought to praise the Lord among our sisters and brothers. We are to sing to his holy name. "May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in sharing the Christmas" (v. 13). 



Reflection on Romans 15:7-13 by Fr. Józef Trzebuniak, SVD

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Monday, December 20, 2021

Firmiores | Strong to bear

"We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves." — Romans 15:1 (NIV)


Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Not all Christians have the same faith growth. Some have slow spiritual growth, some grow fast. Some really believe in what they believe, some don't. There are people who have understood the doctrine or the Bible seriously, some have not. Paul exhorts the Romans that "We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves'" (Roman 15:1 - NIV). This means that those of us who really believe in what we believe must be patient with the problems or objections of people who are not very sure of what they believe, or who are weak in faith.

Paul also forbade the Romans, not to seek their own pleasure, but on the contrary, they had to please others. Of course not to be a "people pleaser", but the aim is for the good of the people, so that they are more and more built in faith. We do not please others to compromise our faith and truth, but to build up weaker Christians to return to the true teaching. We should do this because Jesus did it.

Jesus Christ Himself did not come into the world to seek His own pleasure. Remember He had been in the garden praying for the Father " not my will but your will" (Luke 22:42). He was willing to take the risk.  He was willing to be humiliated, tortured, die and rise so that our faith in God will be fulfilled and not be in vain. He sacrificed Himself to bear our weaknesses. Christ has become an example for God's people by bearing the reproaches that peoples throw at the Father so that they will repent. We as His children must bear the weakness/objection of the hearts of other Christians so that those whose faith is weak may be strengthened through our teaching in faith and love. Are we ready to be used by God to strengthen those who are weak in faith?



Reflection on Romans 15:1-6 by Fr. Fransiskus Diaz, SVD

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Quicquam | Owe Nothing

"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law " — Romans 13:8 (NIV)


Paul's meaning here is not "no debt". Paul himself in the previous verse said, "Give to everyone what you owe them" (Rm 13:7 - NIV).  Paul's point here is that love is our debt to others. No matter how much we have paid for it, we still have to do it. That's our debt. A wife takes care of her husband who is sick, no matter how many times she has done it. It is a debt she "has to pay". It is an embodiment of the promise she made before the altar during the Holy Matrimony: "To be faithful in health and in sickness, in gain and in misfortune."

We owe love to others, not because they gave something to us first. Absolutely not. We owe each other because God has given us His love. "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters." ( 1 Jn 3:16). So God's love should underlie every act that we do. Love fulfills the law. We should do good deeds to someone not out of compulsion, or because it is obligatory to do. We do that out of love. May we always owe love to each other. May love always be our basis in doing our obligations and loving each other. Amen.


 Reflection on Romans 13:8-10 by Fr. Fransiskus Diaz, SVD.

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Subdita sit | Subject to the authorities

"Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established..."  — Romans 13:1-7 

Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash


Reflecting on the introductory line by St. Paul, our earthly authorities too are subject to the Sovereignty of God. Rebellion against our God-appointed earthly authority is rebellion against God. Our LORD Jesus Christ knew this godly principle when He set the example during His unfair trial by Pontius Pilate. Even though He knew that the charges brought against Him by the Jewish religious leaders were false with an intention to kill Him, He obediently allowed Himself to be sentenced to death by Crucifixion, knowing that this was part of the Father’s Plan to save broken humanity - by His inglorious Death on the Cross, glorious Resurrection and Ascension to Heaven, in order to nail our sins unto the Cross, and set us free from the wages of sin, which is death. 

Similarly, as a follower of Christ, while I am aware of my  rights as a son of God, I am also keenly aware that I’m subject to the governing laws in Singapore and will deserve any punishment the law requires if I blatantly choose to live as a law breaker here, and such lawless behaviour does not please God as He is the One Who appoints godly leaders on earth.

So as long as I’m living as a citizen on earth, obeying earthly authority is also obeying God, because truly I was once a law breaker apart from God, but thanks be to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, I am set free from the wages of sin, which is death.

I will close with this beautiful Hymn - How Deep The Father’s Love For Us


How deep the Father's love for us

How vast beyond all measure

That He should give His only Son

To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss

The Father turns His face away

As wounds which mar the Chosen One


Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man upon a cross

My sin upon His shoulders

Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice

Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there

Until it was accomplished

His dying breath has brought me life

I know that it is finished


I will not boast in anything

No gifts, no power, no wisdom

But I will boast in Jesus Christ

His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?

I cannot give an answer

But this I know with all my heart

His wounds have paid my ransom

Reflection on Romans 13:1-7 by Chris Tan

Benedicite | Live in harmony

"Live in harmony with one another..." —Romans 12:16a (NIV) 

Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse.
This verse encapsulates what Jesus taught as he lived His life here on earth – love and kindness. We are taught to look at people who hurt us with love and kindness, not an eye for an eye. I often wonder – how is that possible? Only by the grace of God. We are but humans and we react and get affected. But with God, everything is possible. We can bring our hurts at His feet, be filled by His love and let this same Love that comes from the ultimate Source overflow to others – that we may bless those who persecute us, bless and not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Empathy, this verse reminds me of empathy, and how important it is to be emphatic to our neighbors. Joining family or friends in what they feel validates their emotions and will make them feel seen. Though it is important that big emotions are processed internally, there is such a strong sense of community if you know your friends and family are united with you as you rejoice and as you mourn.
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
I have said it before, and I will say it again. I love how the bible has always been practical in its teachings. And yet again in these verses, the Lord gives us guidance how to live with others, with community. With these verses, I can really feel that God wants us to live with community, to nurture relationships. We are not meant to be alone. At the same time, it also speaks to me of balance – not to associate with people of low position, but in the same breath, we are also asked not to be proud and conceited.
Truly, the Word of God, guides.

Reflection on Romans 12:14-16 by  Blessie Sto Tomas
(Listen to the Podcast here)

Friday, December 3, 2021

Sine Simulatione | Without Hypocrisy

"Love must be free of hypocrisy. Detest what is evil; cling to what is good." — Romans 12:9 (NASB) 

Photo by Adnan Khan on Unsplash

Love can be fake. Not every good deed we receive from others is based on love. Even we ourselves can do something nice and yet it doesn’t come from our sincere hearts. The Lord Jesus, in teaching about prayer, gave an example of a man who responds to his friend’s need of bread because he doesn’t want this friend to bother him more. “I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need” (Luke 11:8, NIV). Friendship is not a guarantee to expect a sincere love.

Apostle Paul says that love must be free of hypocrisy (v.9). That we need to examine ourselves. I like the NLT version of Today’s passage (v.9-11): “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.”

There is a relation between serving the Lord Jesus enthusiastically with our genuine love towards others. Zeal for Jesus in our hearts will enable us to love sincerely. Because even God the Father will come and live in our hearts. Jesus said, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23). With God making our hearts His home, we can be sure of a genuine love far from hypocrisy.

But God cannot live in this following condition. Paul's advance instruction was, “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them.” (v.13, NLT). Sincerity loves people more than money. This is a very good test, because often we are willing to help with our time and skill but not with our financial assets. We should not underestimate this aspect. Money often comes between us and others. Because love of money & possessions a lot of relationships break up.  Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matt 6:24, NIV). The Bible gives us the story of Ananias & Sapphira to show hypocrisy covered by so-called generous heart.

Who occupies our hearts? Can God make your heart His home? Let’s examine ourselves more and more. Amen.


Reflection on Romans 12:9-13 by Desire Litaay 
(Listen to the Podcast here)

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Unum Corpus | One Body

“So we, though many, are one body in Christ”  Romans 12:5.


A woman with a man form "one body" and thus they achieve the deepest communion. The Catholic Church calls such a union holy sacrament. Moreover, the Holy Bible begins with a description of such communion in Eden (Gen 1:28). Also, the ancient Greeks knew that a human person looks for the missing part. Yet, the modern world, especially in the West, focuses on individualism. So, we learn to act on our own. We forget that we live in a community to cooperate and embrace one another. 

Apostle Paul reminds us that we are "members one of another". It happens in the case of close friends who decide to trust each other. Sometimes they can come from different backgrounds and places. But by the grace of God, they feel the unity of their minds and souls. They rejoice in the Lord who created them and let them meet. The communion between people grows "in proportion to their faith" (v. 6).

We can ask ourselves: Is it possible to start a deep connection between people in this world? The answer is: yes, it is possible. Can we achieve this by ourselves? Rather not. We need the gift of grace. We have to stop acting in an egoistic way. We must love more than to think about getting profit. True happiness is serving other people. Yes, Jesus Christ, can live in you as well if only you forget yourself for the sake of others. Are you ready for such love which makes you one with your beloved one?



Reflection on Romans 12:3-8 by Józef Trzebuniak.

(Listen to the Podcast here)