Tuesday, 21 May 2013 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Sts. Christopher Magallanes, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Mark 9 : 30-37

After leaving that place, they made their way through Galilee; but Jesus did not want people to know where He was because He was teaching His disciples. And He told them, “The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill Him, but three days after He has been killed, He will rise.”

The disciples, however, did not understand these words and they were afraid to ask Him what He meant. They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, Jesus asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they did not answer, because they had been arguing about who was the greatest.

Then He sat down, called the Twelve and said to them, “If someone wants to be first, let him be last of all and servant of all.” Then He took a little child, placed him in their midst, and putting His arms around him, He said to them, “Whoever welcomes a child such as this in My Name, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes not Me, but the One who sent Me.”

Tuesday, 21 May 2013 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Sts. Christopher Magallanes, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Psalm 36 : 3-4, 18-19, 27-28, 39-40

Trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and live on it. Make the Lord your delight, and He will grant your heart’s desire.

The Lord watches over the lives of the upright; forever will their inheritance abide. They are not crushed in times of calamity; when famine strikes, they still are satisfied.

Do good and shun evil, so that you will live secure forever. For the Lord loves justice and right, and never forsakes His faithful ones. The wicked instead will perish and their breed will be cut off.

The Lord is the salvation of the righteous; in time of distress, He is their refuge. The Lord helps them, and rescues them from the oppressor; He saves them for they sought shelter in Him.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Sts. Christopher Magallanes, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Sirach 2 : 1-13

My son, if you have decided to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials. Keep your heart upright and remain resolute; do not be upset in the time of adversity. Hold fast to the Lord, do not separate yourself from Him so that you may be successful to the end of your days.

Accept all that happens to you, be patient when you are humbled, for as gold is tested in the fire, so those acceptable to God are tested in the crucible of humiliation. Have confidence in Him and He will take care of you; follow the right path and hope in Him.

You, who fear the Lord, wait for His mercy and do not turn away lest you fall. You who fear the Lord, trust Him and you will not lose your reward. You who fear the Lord, hope for all good things; hope for eternal joy and mercy.

Remember what happened to your ancestors. Who has ever trusted in the Lord and been confounded? Who has persevered in fear of the Lord and been abandoned? Who has called upon Him and not been heard? For the Lord is compassion and loving-kindness; He forgives our sins and saves us in time of distress.

Monday, 20 May 2013 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Scripture Reflection)

Prayer is very powerful, brothers and sisters in Christ. Prayer gives us the important link between us and the Lord our God, because prayer is a form of communication that put us in a special link, all of us, each at once, with the Lord, in a two-way conversation, that we can speak to God, and God can also speak to us.

But too often, brethren, that when we pray, we focus too much on ourselves and our selfish ideas, that we bombard the Lord with our requests, our needs, and our wishes, that we fail to listen to God speaking to us in silence. It becomes then a one-way conversation, with our voices overpowering the Lord’s voice within our hearts.

The Lord does not speak to us in audible voice, brothers and sisters. Do not expect that the Lord will announce His speaking to us with trumpets of the angels and loud voices like thunder. Instead, the voice of the Lord is like the softest breeze of the wind, that can only be heard, when we took our time and remain in silence. In silence, and in retreat from the busy schedule of our world, even for a short time, will allow us to listen to God speaking within us, in His own subtle way, and we can then know what God wants for us.

But prayer is also important because it gives us power and strength in our daily struggle against the devil and his agents in this world, that always attempt to corrupt us and all mankind with the seductions of pleasure and temporary joy, that lead to evil and damnation. Prayer gives us advantage over the devil because with prayer, we anchor ourselves and keep our link with God our Father, who is the supreme sovereign over all creations, even over Satan and his angels, and therefore, with God at our back, no one, even the devil can harm us.

Prayer makes us into a fortress of faith that protects us from the devil, and yet, with the power and wisdom of God, prayer not only protects us from the power of the evil one, but it also can bring about healing and purification in others, helping others who also struggle against the power of Satan. Prayer can overpower the devil and force him out, replacing him with the presence of God that will stay and dwell, preventing the devil from coming in again, as long as that person remain faithful in the Lord.

We need God in our fight against the devil, and our strong faith must be supplemented with the strong connection that we have to the Lord. That was why the disciples of Jesus cannot remove the devil from that young boy, because they simply did not keep up their prayer life, to anchor themselves strongly in God’s power and authority that would have triumphed over the devil.

Today, brethren, we also celebrate the feast of St. Bernardine of Siena. St. Bernardine was a great Fransiscan monk who became a great evangeliser and preacher, in Italy, where many corruptions of the world had entered the Church and the society. He campaigned strongly for the purification of the faith, and the return to the true faith, and preached strongly against the corruptions and wicked practices in the society and the Church at the time.

That is what we should do too, brothers and sisters in Christ. Even though our Church now is not like that in the past, that of the time of St. Bernardine, the world still corrupts much of our world today. It is up to us, and to the many missionaries and champions of God’s Gospels, to bring God’s light into the world. St. Bernardine of Siena, pray for us, that God will continue to strengthen our faith and give us courage to stand up against the world and the devil.

Monday, 20 May 2013 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Mark 9 : 14-29

When they came to the place where they had left the disciples, they saw many people around them and some teachers of the Law arguing with them. When the people saw Jesus, they were astonished and ran to greet Him.

He asked, “What are you arguing about with them?” A man answered Him from the crowd, “Master, I brought my son to You, for he has a spirit, deaf and mute. Whenever the spirit seizes him, it throws him down and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth and becomes stiff all over. I asked Your disciples to drive the spirit out, but they could not.”

Jesus replied, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him to Me.” And they brought the boy to Him.

As soon as the spirit saw Jesus, it shook and convulsed the boy, who fell on the ground and began rolling about, foaming at the mouth. Then Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” He replied, “From childhood. And it has often thrown him into the fire and into the water to destroy him. If You can do anything, have pity on us and help us.”

Jesus said to him, “Why do you say, ‘If You can?’ All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe, but help the little faith I have.”

Jesus saw that the crowd was increasing rapidly, so He ordered the evil spirit, “Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you : ‘Leave the boy and never enter him again.'” The evil spirit shook and convulsed the boy and with a terrible shriek came out.

The boy lay like a corpse and people said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him and the boy stood up. After Jesus had gone indoors, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive out the spirit?” And He answered, “Only prayer can drive out this kind, nothing else.”

Monday, 20 May 2013 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Psalm)

Psalm 92 : 1ab, 1c-2, 5

The Lord reigns, robed in majesty; the Lord is girded with strength.

The world now is firm, it cannot be moved. Your throne stands from long ago, o Lord, from all eternity, You are.

Your decrees can be trusted; holiness dwells in Your house day after day without end, o Lord.

Monday, 20 May 2013 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (First Reading)

Sirach 1 : 1-10

All wisdom comes from the Lord and endures with Him forever. The grains of sand, the drops of rain and the days of eternity, who can count them? The height of heaven, the extent of the earth, and the depths of the abyss, who can measure them?

Wisdom was created before all things and the prudent intellect before the beginning of time. To whom was the source of Wisdom revealed? Who has known her secret designs? One alone is wise and greatly to be feared. The One who is seated upon His throne.

The Lord Himself created Wisdom. He looked on her and knew her value. He poured her out over all His works; upon all mortal beings, in accordance with his goodness. He lavished her on those who love Him.

Sunday, 19 May 2013 : Solemnity of the Pentecost, Pentecost Sunday (Scripture Reflection)

Happy Pentecost, dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today marks the end of the fifty days Easter season, and the end of the long celebrations of Christ’s glorious resurrection. Tomorrow will mark the beginning of the liturgical Ordinary Time again in the Church, with the seventh Ordinary week. But Easter does not end here, but it in fact continues and we should always rejoice in the resurrection of the Lord and continue to carry on the Easter spirit that is within us, to be witnesses of Christ’s resurrection and glory.

Pentecost is a very important day in the history of the Church and indeed is a crucial event that all of us who believes in Christ must treasure and understand. For Pentecost, as many of us would have known from our early days that it marks the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles in Jerusalem, when the Advocate, that is the Holy Spirit promised by Christ our Lord finally arrives and inflames the hearts of all the disciples, and teach them all that they need to know about the Lord.

Pentecost, through the Holy Spirit’s entry into the hearts of the disciples, transformed them from the weak, ordinary human that they were, to be the powerful champions of God and His presence in this world. Through the disciples, empowered by the Holy Spirit, the believers in Christ, which once was cowered in great fear and confusion by the death of Christ, exploded outwards and began the work of salvation of all mankind, which continues even to this day.

Today marked the birth of our Church, the Roman Catholic Church. This Church had begun on that day, with the conversion of more than three thousand souls to the cause of the Lord. That because Peter, the leader of the Apostles, filled with the flames of the Holy Spirit, rose up to defend the Lord and preach the truth to the people, without fear that once gripped the hearts of all the disciples. Gone were the fear and confusion, and with the Holy Spirit giving them all the knowledge of the faith, all were clear to them, and they preached the Gospels of the Lord, the Gospel of truth, and many accepted the Lord that day.

As Christ had once told His disciples in His sermon, He told them that the Holy Spirit brought with It various gifts to those whom the Spirit was willing to come and dwell within. The Holy Spirit gives courage to the hearts of mankind, and they encourage those who had been paralyzed by fear, and that was why the apostles suddenly became so forthcoming in proclaiming the truth of God, when they were just moments before so fearful of capture by the Jewish authorities that they were gathered in a locked room.

The Holy Spirit also gives the gifts of tongues, that is the ability to speak in various languages, and this was told in the first reading today that the apostles spoke various languages, praising the Lord, and were heard by the visitors from all over the world that were at the time gathered in Jerusalem for the Festival. This gift allows the disciples to preach to the people in their own native tongues and therefore greatly enhanced their ability to spread the Good News of the Lord to the peoples of various countries, and this itself also played a crucial role in the birth and growth of the Church of God.

The Holy Spirit also gives guidance to those who have uncertainty in their path, and this Holy Spirit becomes truly the Advocate, guiding the apostles in their missions throughout the Mediterranean, for the next few decades, particularly in the missions and travels of St. Paul the Apostle, who brought the Word of God to many people, Jews and Gentiles alike, that many of them became the believers in Christ. Through the Holy Spirit, many became the children of God and be saved.

The Holy Spirit remains at work in our Church today, and is evident in the many works of evangelisation by our courageous and tireless missionaries that preach the word of God in many areas of the world today, bringing the light of God to many in various nations. We too can play our part, as we too have been given the Holy Spirit through our own baptism and strengthened in our own confirmation.

We can help the process of evangelisation, by reflecting Christ in our actions, our words, and all our deeds, that through us, the light of Christ can be seen by those around us, and then they may believe and become followers of Christ too, just like all of us. But do not seek the gifts of the Holy Spirit with greed, just like what some ‘Christians’ like to do. Some like to claim the gift of tongues and languages, blabbering in unintelligible words, as if they truly speak in tongues. Be warned, brothers and sisters, the gift of the Holy Spirit does not always mean external displays and shows such as these, as if we are not careful, instead of the Holy Spirit, we may be dealing with the devil.

Rather, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us use the Holy Spirit within us, and the subtle gifts that It has given us, that is mainly love and hope. Love that inflames our hearts to zealously spread the Word of God to all those around us, through our words, and through our actions. The Holy Spirit also gives us hope and strength of mind, to be always ready and willing to evangelise in the Name of God. With these gifts in our hands, let us become modern missionaries of Christ, spreading the Good News to all nations.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, many people have yet listen to the Word of God, and many also have no chance of receiving the baptism of the Lord, because either they had no access to the Word, or no access to God’s message, or the Scripture, or because of external pressures and prejudice against the faith in the Lord that prevents many from becoming the children of God.

Let the Holy Spirit transform us and through us, let the Holy Spirit do His work in our world, to renew this world, bring the light of Christ into it, and make this world worthy of the Lord our God, when He comes again in His glorious Second Coming. May God strengthen us all with the Holy Spirit that He has sent through His Son, Jesus Christ, who gave the Holy Spirit as the breath of life, to His disciples, and from His disciples to our bishops and priests, and from them to us.

Sunday, 19 May 2013 : Solemnity of the Pentecost, Pentecost Sunday (Gospel Reading)

John 20 : 19-23

On the evening of that day, the first day after the Sabbath, the doors were locked where the disciples were, because of their fear of the Jews. But Jesus came, and stood among them, and said to them, “Peace be with you!” Then He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples kept looking at the Lord and were full of joy.

Again Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” After saying this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit! Those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”

 

Alternative reading

 

John 14 : 15-16, 23b-26

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments; and I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper to be with you forever. If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word and My Father will love him; and We will come to him and make a room in his home.

But if anyone does not love Me; he will not keep My words; and these words that you hear are not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. I told you all this while I was still with you. From now on the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I have told you.

Sunday, 19 May 2013 : Solemnity of the Pentecost, Pentecost Sunday (Second Reading)

1 Corinthians 12 : 3b-7, 12-13

No one can say, “Jesus is the Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There is diversity of gifts, but the Spirit is the same. There is diversity of ministries, but the Lord is the same. There is diversity of works, but the same God works in all.

The Spirit reveals His presence in each one with a gift that is also a service. As the body is one, having many members, and all the members, while being many, form one body, so it is with Christ. All of us, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, have been baptised in one Spirit to form one body and all of us have been given to drink from the one Spirit.

 

Alternative reading

 

Romans 8 : 8-17

So, those walking according to the flesh cannot please God. Yet your existence is not in the flesh, but in the spirit, because the Spirit of God is within you. If you did not have the Spirit of Christ, you would not belong to Him.

But Christ is within you; though the body is branded by death as a consequence of sin, the spirit is life and holiness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is within you, He who raised Jesus Christ from among the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies. Yes, He will do it through His Spirit who dwells within you.

Then, brothers, let us leave the flesh and no longer live according to it. If not, we will die. Rather, walking in the Spirit, let us put to death the body’s deeds so that we may live. All those who walk in the Spirit of God are sons and daughters of God. Then, no more fear : you did not receive a spirit of slavery, but the Spirit that makes you sons and daughters and every time we cry, “Abba! Father!” the Spirit assures our spirit that we are sons and daughters of God.

If we are children, we are heirs, too. Ours will be the inheritance of God and we will share it with Christ; for if we now suffer with Him, we will also share Glory with Him.