Friday, 24 November 2017 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 19 : 45-48

At that time, Jesus entered the Temple area and began to drive out the merchants. And He said to them, “God says in the Scriptures, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have turned it into a den of robbers!”

Jesus was teaching every day in the Temple. The chief priests and teachers of the Law wanted to kill Him, and the elders of the Jews as well, but they were unable to do anything, for all the people were listening to Him and hanging on His words.

Friday, 24 November 2017 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

1 Chronicles 29 : 10, 11abc, 11d-12a, 12bcd

May You be praised, YHVH God of Israel our ancestor, forever and ever!

Yours, YHVH, is the greatness, the power, splendour, length of days, glory; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is Yours. Yours is the sovereignty forever, o YHVH.

You are supreme Ruler over all. Riches and honour go before You.

You are Ruler of all; in Your hand lie strength and power. You are the One Who gives greatness and strength to all.

Friday, 24 November 2017 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

1 Maccabees 4 : 36-37, 52-59

Then Judas and his brothers said : “Our enemies are defeated, so let us go up and purify the Holy Place and consecrate it again.” And all the army assembled and went up to Mount Zion.

On the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev, in the year one hundred and forty-eight (in the year 164 B.C.) they arose at dawn and offered the sacrifice prescribed by the Law on the new altar of holocausts which they had built. It was precisely at that same time and date that the pagans had profaned it before; but now they consecrated it with songs, accompanied by zithers, harps and cymbals. All the people fell prostrate and blessed Heaven that had given them happiness and success.

They celebrated the consecration of the altar for eight days, joyfully offering holocausts and celebrating sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise. The front of the Temple was adorned with crowns of gold and shields; and the gates and the rooms had been restored and fitted with doors. There was no end to the celebration among the people; and so profanation of the Temple by the pagans was forgotten.

Finally, Judas, his brothers and the whole assembly of Israel agreed to celebrate the anniversary of the consecration of the altar annually for eight days, from the twenty-fifth of the month of Chislev, in high festivity.

Thursday, 23 November 2017 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr, and St. Columban, Abbot (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Abbots)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we continued with the discourse of the Maccabees rebellion in our first reading today, this time, we heard of how the representatives of the Greek Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes came to Modein, where the Maccabees family resided, and we heard how the family patriarch, Mattathias, firmly stood his ground and refused to obey the commands of the king, for them to abandon their faith in God and give sacrifices to the Greek gods.

As I mentioned in the previous days, the Jewish people were persecuted and were in a great danger because of their faith, which the Greek king wanted to eradicate, and it resulted in many sorrowful cases of those who were martyred, including yesterday’s story of a mother and her seven sons who refused to listen to the king’s commands and persuasions, and they were martyred one by one.

They would rather suffer for a while and then be worthy of God’s everlasting glory, rather than submitting to the king and enjoying a merely temporary respite of false happiness. That was why they resisted the pressure and the temptations to abandon their faith. All of those things however were not easily done. There were many during the time of the Maccabees who apostasised and abandoned their faith, in exchange of worldly safety and pleasures.

In the Gospel today, we heard about the lamentation that the Lord Jesus made about the city of Jerusalem, because He predicted what would happen to that city under the Roman rule just a few decades after Our Lord’s crucifixion. The city of Jerusalem would be destroyed in the year 70 A.D., by the Roman legions who were sent there to put down rebellion by Jewish zealots and hardliners who rose up against the Romans. The Temple of Jerusalem and the entire city were ransacked and toppled.

All of these, ultimately came about because those people believed not in the power of God, but in their own power, and trusted in worldly matters more than their faith in God. If many of the Jews at the time of the Maccabees surrendered to temptation and abandoned their faith in God, then during the time of Jesus, as Our Lord Himself mentioned, the people refused to believe in Him or listen to Him, and they rejected Him.

What is the lesson that all of us should take note of today? It is that we should expect if we remain faithful to the Lord and are active in living our faith as we should be, we may encounter difficulties and challenges from those who do not agree with our faith, just as what happened in the Scripture passages that we heard today.

Now we have to ask ourselves the question, are we willing to suffer and be persecuted for the sake of Our Lord, that for temporary suffering and pain, and yet, because of our faith, we merit the eternal glory and happiness with God? Or do we rather seek temporary respite and happiness, because we are accepted by the world through our rejection and abandonment of our faith?

Today, we celebrate the feast of Pope St. Clement I, one of the first Popes of the Church, as the successor of St. Peter the Apostle as the Bishop of Rome and therefore, as the most preeminent bishop and leader of the entire Church. Pope St. Clement I lived and reigned as Pope just a few decades after the crucifixion and resurrection of Our Lord. He was known to be the first of the Apostolic Fathers, whose writings were highly significant for our faith even though they were not included in the Bible.

Pope St. Clement I wrote extensively and several of his letters and works survived until this very day. He was a very important leader of the early Church, guiding it through the difficult years that alternate between toleration of the Christian faith by the Roman authorities and persecution by the same authorities. He helped to guide the Church through those difficult times, and remained firmly anchored in his faith.

To this very end, he persevered in faith, and remained resolute in standing up to the truth, even amidst difficult times. He of course had the choice to abandon his hard work and enjoy respite from the world, all the persecutions he had to face. Yet, he chose to be with God. This is an example which all of us as Christians should also follow as well. Let us all renew our faith and our commitment to God, in all the things we do.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He bless all of our endeavours. And may all of us draw ever closer to Him, that we will always endure whatever persecution and difficulty that we may encounter on our way to Him. Amen.

Thursday, 23 November 2017 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr, and St. Columban, Abbot (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Abbots)

Luke 19 : 41-44

At that time, when Jesus had come in sight of the city, He wept over it, and said, “If only today you knew the ways of peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Yet days will come upon you, when your enemies will surround you with barricades, and shut you in, and press on you from every side.”

“And they will dash you to the ground and your children with you, and not leave stone upon stone within you, for you did not recognise the time and the visitation of your God.”

Thursday, 23 November 2017 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr, and St. Columban, Abbot (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Abbots)

Psalm 49 : 1-2, 5-6, 14-15

The God of gods, YHVH has spoken; He summons the earth, from the rising of the sun to its setting. God has shone from Zion, perfect in beauty.

Gather before Me, My faithful ones, who made a Covenant with Me by sacrifice. The heavens will proclaim His sentence, for God Himself is the Judge.

Yet, offer to God a sacrifice of thanks, and fulfil your vows to the Most High. Call on Me in time of calamity; I will deliver you, and you will glorify Me.

Thursday, 23 November 2017 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr, and St. Columban, Abbot (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Abbots)

1 Maccabees 2 : 15-29

In the meantime, the king’s representatives, who were forcing the Jews to give up their religion came to Modein to organise a sacred gathering. While many Israelites went to them, Mattathias and his sons drew apart.

The representatives of the king addressed Mattathias, and said to him : “You are one of the leaders of this city, an important and well-known man, and your many children and relatives follow you. Come now, and be the first to fulfil the king’s order, as the men of Judah have already done, and the survivors in Jerusalem as well. You and your sons will be named friends of the king and the king will send you gold, silver and many other gifts.”

But Mattathias answered in a loud voice : “Even if all the nations included in the kingdom should abandon the religion of their ancestors and submit to the order of king Antiochus, I, my sons and my family will remain faithful to the Covenant of our ancestors. May God preserve us from abandoning the Law and its precepts. We will not obey the orders of the king nor turn aside from our religion either to the right or to the left.”

When he finished speaking these words, a Jew came forward, in the sight of everyone, to offer incense on the altar that was built in Modein, according to the king’s decree. When Mattathias saw him, he was fired with zeal. His heart was stirred; and giving vent to his righteous anger, he threw himself on the Jew and cut the man’s throat on the altar. At the same time, he killed the king’s representative who was forcing the people to offer sacrifice; and then tore down the altar. In doing this, he showed his zeal for the Law, as Phinehas had done with Zimri, son of Salu.

Mattathias then began to proclaim loudly in the city : “Everyone who is zealous for the Law and supports the Covenant, come out and follow me!” Immediately, he and his sons fled to the mountains and left behind all they had in the city. Many Jews who looked for justice and wanted to be faithful to the Law went into the desert.