Thursday, 9 October 2014 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are both reminded of the fact that temptations are always around us and they will always threaten to sever us from the connection of love which is between us and our God. St. Paul in his letter to the faithful and the Church in Galatia rebuked the people severely, after their unfaithfulness and submission to their human desire and the pleasures of the flesh, abandoning what is good for what is wicked and evil.

And the rest of the readings, including the Gospel as written by St. Luke mentioned how God is like our Father, who cared for us and loved us so much, that He would indeed give us all many things that we need, and we have nothing to worry about or fear, for our God will be with us and guide us. What we need is to have faith in Him, and put our trust completely in Him, rather than in the worldly things which the evil one is trying very hard to impose upon us.

But many of us do not know how to ask God our Father for what we need. Instead, as we grow, we become more and more affected by the world and all its corruptions, resulting in us becoming like a spoilt child, crying and causing wreckage all around us whenever what we want is not fulfilled. Thus is the same with our attitude in life, and how we live our faith life.

Just like the faithful in Galatia at the time of St. Paul, we often let go of our restraint and faith, taking pleasure in indulging ourselves with the goods of the world, with the pleasures of the flesh, so that we who were once good and faithful, had been defiled by the darkness of the evils we had committed. This resulted in us being separated from the grace and love of God, and if nothing is done, we will indeed come under great threat of damnation before us.

Therefore, what Jesus wanted to tell His disciples, and as well as what He wants to tell us through them, is that we ought to follow the Lord, not just with empty lip-service or superficial faith, but also through real and concrete devotion, filled with the acts of faith. And in that faith, we ought to listen to God, and know what our Lord and loving Father wants from us. He cares for us, and He will love us and bless us if we devote ourselves completely and entirely to Him, turning away from our ways of sin and evil.

Today we celebrate the lives of two great saints, whose life may indeed inspire us on how we ought to live out our faith. They are St. Denis, whose name is the patronymic for the Basilica of St. Denis in Paris, France today. St. Denis and his companions in faith were martyred approximately at the time of the reign of the Emperor Decian of the Roman Empire in the middle of the third century after the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Meanwhile, St. John Leonardi, also known as St. Giovanni Leonardi is an Italian priest who lived during the Counter Reformation era in Italy, where he was a crucial member of the efforts of the Church to reclaim countless souls from the heretical and misguided lead of the so-called ‘reformation’ by the Protestant heretics and schismatics. He also founded a community of the faithful, in which he led the effort to strengthen the foundations of their faith, by living in good devotion to the Lord and to His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

St. John Leonardi devoted himself to the education and guidance of youths and many others, so that they might find their way towards the Lord, through sincere and devout commitment to prayerful life and loving acts to others, so that by such cultivation of good deeds and efforts, those whom St. John Leonardi had touched may find the salvation of their souls in God.

Meanwhile, St. Denis was the evangeliser sent by the Pope in Rome to the faithful and the community of the people in Gaul, the Roman province now known as France, where he was sent with several other priests and preachers to bring many souls to the Faith and salvation in Jesus Christ. During his ministry there, the Roman Emperor at the time, Emperor Decius, carried out an Empire-wide persecution of the faithful, in what was later known as the Decian persecution, where many martyrs of the Faith were born.

St. Denis and his companions were arrested, rounded up and imprisoned, before they were brought for execution for their faith and for their evangelising works. St. Denis was beheaded, but even so, even after he was beheaded, he was able to walk holding up his own separated head on his hands, and continued to walk, speak and preach the word of God until a few kilometres away from his execution place. This miracle of the speaking head after beheading, or cephalophore was widely witnessed and reported by contemporaries.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we see in their examples, the love and devotion which God has for all those who put their trust and faith in Him, that these people who depended on Him will not be disappointed. They will be blessed and bountiful will be their reward, just as St. Denis received through his perseverance and martyrdom, a just reward of heavenly glory and eternal life, as well as St. John Leonardi, through his works and devotion towards the salvation of souls.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all keep always in mind that we need to preserve this faith which we received from God, and follow the Lord in all things, casting away all of the pride within our hearts, all of the wicked and unworthy desires for the pleasures of the flesh, so that we, as the children of God, may find our way to the Lord, our Father, and gain salvation in Him, He who loves us all and wants us reunited with Him.

May Almighty God, our Father, continue to watch closely over us, protect us from the assaults of Satan and his angels, and guide us through towards eternal life in Him. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 9 October 2014 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 11 : 5-13

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to his house in the middle of the night and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine who is travelling has just arrived, and I have nothing to offer him.’ Maybe your friend will answer from inside, ‘Do not bother me now; the door is locked, and my children and I are in bed, so I cannot get up and give you anything.'”

“But I tell you, even though he will not get up and attend to you because you are a friend, yet he will get up because you are a bother to him, and he will give you all you need. And so I say to you, ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For the one who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to him who knocks the door will be opened.'”

“If your child asks for a fish, will you give him a snake instead? And if your child asks for an egg, will you give him a scorpion? If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”

Thursday, 9 October 2014 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 1 : 69-70, 71-72, 73-75

In the house of David His servant, He has raised up for us a victorious Saviour; as He promised through His prophets of old.

Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of our foes. He has shown mercy to our fathers; and remembered His holy covenant.

The oath He swore to Abraham, our father, to deliver us from the enemy, that we might serve Him fearlessly, as a holy and righteous people, all the days of our lives.

Thursday, 9 October 2014 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Galatians 3 : 1-5

How foolish you are, Galatians! How could they bewitch you after Jesus Christ has been presented to you as crucified? I shall ask you only this : Did you receive the Spirit by the practice of the Law, or by believing the message? How can you be such fools : you begin with the Spirit and end up with the flesh!

So you have experienced all this in vain! Would that it were not so! Did God give you the Spirit and work miracles among you, because of your observance of the Law or because you believed in His message?

Wednesday, 8 October 2014 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard in the Scriptures, in the first reading, in the letter which St. Paul addressed to the Church in Galatia, on the conflict which existed even among the Apostles, and of the good works which they had performed among the people of God, teaching and spreading the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ.

However, indeed, the Apostles themselves were still human, although they had indeed been blessed and inspired by the Holy Spirit which they had received together at the day of the Pentecost, and which they spread to those chosen to be Apostles and leaders by the laying on of the hand. The Holy Spirit strengthened and guided them in their actions, but they were still humans after all, even that of St. Paul.

It was human nature for them to feel fear and insecurity, which sometimes may lay in the way of the good works of the Lord, as St. Paul put it, in how Peter, the chief of the Apostles acted in such a way to the people of God, to those among the faithful who did not belong to the Jewish race, in a prejudiced and biased manner, to please those who came from Jerusalem.

It is in our human nature to think first about our own self-preservation and for our own safety and benefits first before thinking about others. We are by nature selfish and proud of ourselves, which if we can see, even St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians espoused this, in his manner to establish how his own actions compared to that of Peter was righteous and just.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to be in constant touch with our Lord and God, so that we may always be reminded our own frailties and insecurities, and also reminded of what God has in stock for us, and as well as the nature of our God, that is mercy and love. He is loving just as He is forgiving, and to all those who walk in His ways, He would grant them much grace and blessings. He provides for us all in all things, so that we really have no need to worry or fear.

And today Jesus showed us in the Gospel, how to pray to the Lord, with proper disposition and attitude, which will definitely bring spiritual goodness to our hearts, minds and souls. We may think that we know how to pray, and we may think that we do not need to be coached and taught on how to do so, but that is where we are again very, very wrong.

If we notice, many of us when we pray, we end up in creating a litany of requests and demands, asking God to fulfill and heed to our wishes and wants. As a result, our prayers became insincere, and what ought to be a communication and loving contact between us and our Father in heaven, who loves us and cares for us, end up being like a spoilt child crying for demands to be fulfilled by his parents.

That is why, the Lord’s Prayer, Pater Noster, the prayer which Jesus taught His disciples is the perfect prayer, which establishes between us the crucial link with God our Father, beginning by extolling His greatness and holiness, as well as showing our perfect and complete obedience to His will and graces, which He as the Lord of all heaven and earth, has right to justify all that He has planned for us.

And instead of boasting of our achievements and demanding from Him what we want to have in life, we should rather give thanks to Him for His provision in our lives, that in our daily lives, we have enough to live for ourselves, and if we do not have enough, that He moved the hearts of those around us to help us make ends meet in this life, just as He moved those with excess to generously give part of what they have more.

And ultimately, that we seek God’s mercy for the sins and wrongs we have committed in the course of our lives. Our days do not pass without us committing sins and unworthy things, and no matter how small they are, they bar us from proceeding forward to be closer to God. And we have committed sins and cause injury, both physical and mental, to our brethren around us, just as they have done the same unto us.

If we persist in our hatred and unwillingness to forgive one another, this will merely lead to more and more pain and suffering among us, which will lead to even more sin and darkness in our lives, that will end up separating us further and further from the love of God and bring us ever closer to the brink of damnation. Thus, it is beautiful and wonderful indeed if we can truly forgive one another, that is to forgive each other the sins and mistakes.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, we who are all children of God, the members of His Church, we must all stand together as one. Do not let our ego and Satan break our unity and strength. Let us all forgive one another when we committed any wrongs or mistakes, and let us all renew our faith and commitment to the Lord, by spending precious time with Him, in deep and genuine prayer, not for our own needs and desires, but for our spiritual growth and salvation in God.

May Almighty God, our Father who is in heaven, forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven others who have sinned against us, and may He never cease to love us and grant us His daily blessings. God be with us all. Amen.