Wednesday, 30 April 2014 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

The Lord loves all those that belong to Him, and He cares deeply for all of them. Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why with the Lord on our side, we should not fear, for God will guide our way and protect us from harm, as He had done with His Apostles who spread His Good News to the people.

God’s tender mercy and love for us is indeed so great, that in His willingness to save all of us, as we all know from the well-known passage taken from John 3 : 16 as we read in the Gospel today that the Lord so loved the world that He gave us His only Son, that all who believe in Him may not die, but receive life eternal through Him. That is the complete truth about God’s love and dedication for us all His creations.

Jesus indeed came into the world to liberate it from the darkness that had veiled the eyes of the people for a long time, and He came so that the Law can be explained in its fullness, and its purpose revealed, that is first to bring glory to God, and secondly, to bring mankind and all the people of God back into the loving embrace of their Lord and Father.

Jesus did not condemn anyone for their sinfulness and unworthiness, and He instead proclaimed forgiveness for all those who were willing to repent with true sincerity and turned their backs against their past, sinful lives. He did not judge them unless they themselves had refused to listen and accept His presence and teachings in the first place, as what the Pharisees had done with great impunity and stubbornnness.

Jesus our Lord sought out the sinners and the downtrodden, the so-called least and lowest in the societal hierarchy, that is those rejected by the people, marginalised and ostracised. He sought them out with love, that He might bring God’s love and forgiveness to them, and through this, many believed in Him and were profoundly changed, bringing them closer towards salvation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that in essence, is the Christian love that all of us should aspire towards, and which we should follow, sharing our love, care and attention especially to those who are marginalised and rejected, whose rights are trampled against, and who are treated unjustly. These people need our help, and if our Lord and God did not hesitate to come and save us all, His people, then we too should not be hesitant to help our brethren in need, in whatever way we can.

There will be many who will be against our good works and our charitable acts, just as many had opposed the Lord when He was in the world and exercised His power to bring light to many. There are many people who still remain in darkness, and sadly, that many prefer to remain in darkness rather than to be welcomed into the light, and this resulted in the opposition that we may face as we go about doing what we are doing.

But do not be disheartened, brothers and sisters, and do not fear, for we have to always remember that the Lord is on our side, and He will guide us and protect us on our way, and He will not abandon us to those who seek our destruction. The Lord loves all peoples, and especially those who had given themselves to His cause and walk in His ways.

Today we celebrate the feast of a saintly Pope, the leader of the Universal Church, that is Pope St. Pius V, who was renowned for his leadership of the Church during a time of division and troubles, when the Church of God was assailed from within and without, and when the Church was truly in dire straits, and the fate of the many souls of the people of God were in true danger.

For Pope St. Pius V lived during a time of particularly difficult era for the Church and Christendom in general, when the powerful Ottoman Empire, the heathen-led unbelievers, assailed the very heart of Christendom, and had risen to be a very powerful, all-conquering and mighty empire with an enormous force of arms. Pope St. Pius V lived at the height of the tumult created by Protestant reformations, when misguided people of God turned their backs against the orthodox and true faith of their fathers in the Church.

Today we celebrate the life and examples of this Pope, who reigned as the leader of the Universal Church and the guide of the barque of St. Peter at this difficult time. Pope St. Pius V and his examples were truly legendary and great, and his sainthood cannot be separated from the fact that he managed to keep the Church and the faithful united strongly together amidst the difficulties and the various forces opposed to the people of the Lord.

He led the efforts to fight back the enemies of the faithful by forming a Holy League composed of those who pledged themselves to the Lord to fight for the people of God and in the end won an astounding and total victory at the Battle of Lepanto, which Pope St. Pius V attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Mother of our Saviour, which day of battle he dedicated to be the feast of our Lady of Victory, now known as the feast of our Lady of the Rosary.

Pope St. Pius V also solidified the Church and the faithful by completing with great faith the reforms of the Council of Trent, designed to purify the faith of all human errors and sinfulness, and changing the Church of God for the better while condemning all the erroneous judgments made by the heretical Protestants who cared more for themselves and for worldly glories rather than the glory of God.

Pope St. Pius V is someone whose dedication to the Lord and His Church we should emulate, in our own lives, that we may be dedicated to the Lord as well, that in all of our actions, we may reflect that we are truly the children of Christ, and the followers and disciples of Christ, proclaiming the love and forgiveness of God wherever we go.

May Almighty God be with us, guide our steps and strengthen us as we embark on this journey of life, that, following the footsteps of Pope St. Pius V we may do good to others and be faithful and dedicated servants of our Lord, defending the orthodox and true faith, keeping it pure from any worldly taint of sin and human desires, that we may be in the end, worthy of His presence and glory. God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 16-21

Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through Him the world is to be saved. Whoever believes in Him will not be condemned. He who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God.

This is how the Judgment is made : Light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For whoever does wrong hates the light, and does not come to the light, for fear that his deeds will be seen as evil. But whoever lives according to the truth comes into the light, so that it can be clearly seen that his works have been done in God.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 33 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

I will bless the Lord all my days, His praise will be ever on my lips. My soul makes it boast in the Lord; let the lowly hear and rejoice.

Oh, let us magnify the Lord, together let us glorify His Name! I sought the Lord, and He answered me; from all my fears He delivered me.

They who look to Him are radiant with joy, their faces never clouded with shame. When the poor cry out, the Lord hears and saves them from distress.

The Lord’s angel encamps and patrols to keep safe those who fear Him. Oh, see and taste the goodness of the Lord! Blessed is the one who finds shelter in Him!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 5 : 17-26

The High Priest and all his supporters, that is the party of the Sadducees, became very jealous of the Apostles; so they arrested them and had them thrown into the public jail. But an angel of the Lord opened the door of the prison during the night, brought them out, and said to them, “Go and stand in the Temple court and tell the people the whole of this living message.”

Accordingly they entered the Temple at dawn and resumed their teaching. When the High Priest and his supporters arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin, that is the full Council of the elders of Israel. They sent word to the jail to have the prisoners brought in.

But when the Temple guards arrived at the jail, they did not find them inside, so they returned with the news, “We found the prison securely locked and the prison guards at their post outside the gate, but when we opened the gate, we found no one inside.”

Upon hearing these words, the captain of the Temple guard and the high priests were baffled, wondering where all of this would end. Just then someone arrived with the report, “Look, those men whom you put in prison are standing in the Temple, teaching the people.”

Then the captain went off with the guards and brought them back, but without any show of force, for fear of being stoned by the people.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Share your goods with one another, be with those among you who are lonely, sick, in trouble, or downtrodden, and comfort one another. Assure them that Christ is with them, through your actions. That is the essence of the lives of the early Christian communities, where the earliest converts to the cause of the Lord lived together in perfect harmony and in accordance to the will of God.

In doing what they had done, these predecessors of our faith has eliminated the temptations of this world, in the temptations of money, wealth and power, so that their lives might be completely dedicated to the cause of the Lord, as they had shown in how they lived and treated one another as brothers and sisters, children of the same God.

In essence, what these disciples of Christ had done is true communism and socialism, unlike what had been attempted by those we know as the communists and socialists of our days. They failed miserably, because they lacked God in their system, and they were unable to prevent human desire and intentions from interfering in their attempt to achieve true communism as the disciples of Christ had done.

This of course does not mean that what we have today is bad, or systems like capitalism is bad. It is unbridled capitalism, the desires and hunger for money and more money that is harmful, for it leads us to disregard for our fellow brethren especially those who are in need, and we are in the position where we are able to help them.

In reality of this world, what has been known as communism and socialism is nothing better than the tyranny of the minority and the powerful, that is in the name of championing equality and common good, certain people had taken advantage of the situation and ended up benefitting from what they had done. And these people are those in the positions of power, that is those who have the greatest access to many resources shared by the people, and ended up embezzling them for their own benefits and to the suffering of the people.

Greed, jealousy, fear, dishonesty, and many other vices we know well off are the many problems that mankind commonly face, and these are the main cause behind the problems that prevented the true implementation of common good for all mankind as the early Christian communities had done. That was why so many of the so-called communist and socialist states had failed miserably in achieving their aims, and instead became places where people suffer greatly.

On the other hand, however, we should also not take whatever is in the Scriptures literally. It does not mean that because the early Christian communities had lived as they did, sharing their goods with one another and selling their possessions to be shared, then we too must do the same. Indeed, in this era, in our world today, doing so would merely do more harm than good and it will also hinder us from having the opportunity to help those who are less fortunate.

Having possessions is in fact a great opportunity for us to give help to those who are in need. These possessions can be shared and yet we still have enough for ourselves. Remember that we should not impoverish ourselves to help others, as in fact this may hinder our ability to help them in the long run. What is the most important is that we have the heart for sharing, that is the heart to love another and the giving of ourselves to those who are in need.

It is the attitude that is important for us all, that we open our hearts to God and allow His love to fill us, and from us to the people around us, our brethren. We have to share this love and through the graces that God has given us, some of us have more and some have less, we should share it genuinely and sincerely, without coercion, unlike what those communist states had tried to do, and as what they are doing now in places like North Korea.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, a renowned saint, religious and mystic well-known for her deep faith in God, her holiness and her visions of the Lord. St. Catherine of Siena and her numerous works and writings are essential for the growth of faith in many of those who read them, and she also inspired countless others who followed in her footsteps, with some becoming saints eventually, like her.

St. Catherine of Siena desired that her life be one that is completely on tune with God in complete and total dedication, to the point of even declaring her perpetual dedication to Christ as His spouse. St. Catherine of Siena led a very holy and dedicated life, in deep prayers and fasting, which is often at odds with the society at the time, even clashing with her own family and their desires and plans for her.

St. Catherine of Siena threw far away her pride and human desires, seeking instead the solace and happiness that she could find in God alone, and she was among those called to be the instruments of God’s favour and love for mankind. Through her visions and works, she brought forth numerous writings that exemplified the excellence of her faith, that it shone out of her persona, and in her writings, God made His presence in this world known.

The holiness of St. Catherine of Siena and her dedication to the Lord, which at one point even brought her to be the one to convince the Pope to return to Rome to end the terrible and bitter schism which had divided the Church at that time, is our inspiration, and should indeed empower us to follow her footsteps and become more and more like her in our deeds and actions.

May the Lord continue to guide us in our lives, that we may dispel the superficial and the lies of Satan, and instead seek the truth in God as St. Catherine of Siena had once done. May God be with us, that we may be more and more like Him and when the time comes, may we all be found worthy of life everlasting. God bless us all. Amen.