Tuesday, 2 June 2015 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Mark 12 : 13-17

At that time, the chief priests and the teachers of the Law sent to Jesus some Pharisees with members of Herod’s party, with the purpose of trapping Him by His own words. They came and said to Jesus, “Master, we know that You are truthful; You are not influenced by anyone, and Your answers do not vary according to who is listening to You, but You truly teach God’s way. Tell us, is it against the Law to pay taxes to Caesar? Should we pay them or not?”

But Jesus saw through their trick and answered, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a silver coin and let Me see it.” They brought Him one and Jesus asked, “Whose image is this, and whose name?” They answered, “Caesar’s.”

Then Jesus said, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” And they were greatly astonished.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 111 : 1-2, 7-8, 9

Alleluia! Blessed is the one who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commands. His children will be powerful on earth; the upright’s offspring will be blessed.

He has no fear of evil news, for his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is confident, he needs not fear, he shall prevail over his foes at the end.

He gives generously to the poor, his merits will last forever and his head will be raised in honour.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Tobit 2 : 9-14

That same night, after I had buried the body, I returned home. I washed myself and went out into the courtyard to sleep against the wall; my face was uncovered because of the heat.

I did not see that there were sparrows on the wall of the courtyard and, as my eyes were open, the hot droppings from the sparrows fell into my eyes and formed a white film on my eyes. I went to find doctors to attend to me for medical treatment but the more ointments they smeared on my eyes, the more blind I became because of the film.

Finally I became totally blind. I suffered from blindness for four years. All my brothers were burdened because of me. Ahikar kept me for two years before he departed for Elymiade. My wife Anna worked hard at a woman’s task, weaving. On the seventh day of the month of March she cut the cloth and delivered it to her employers. They paid her wages and gave her, over and above, a young goat for food.

When she returned home the kid began to cry. I said to her, “Where does the little kid come from? Did you steal it? Return it to its owners for we are not allowed to eat anything that is stolen.” But she said, “It is a gift which has been given to me in addition to my wages.”

“I do not believe it. I tell you to return it to its owners.” I was ashamed of her. She replied, “What about your own almsgiving and your good deeds? I have to put up with all this from you.”

Monday, 1 June 2015 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the parable of the vineyard tenants which was told by Jesus to the people including to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were there as well. This parable tells us that there were tenants entrusted with the care of the vineyard by its owner, and yet they refused to fulfill their part of the bargain, by acting wickedly and trying to claim the vineyard as their own.

This parable is a clear representation of the reality between God and mankind, and in what God had done to men, and how men responded to the works which God had done in them. The vineyard owner himself is a representation of the Lord, who owned this universe and this world, just as the vineyard itself represents the world we are living in. The tenants represents all of us mankind, who have been given the trust to take care of the world since the beginning of time.

In the Book of Genesis, after God had created men, He entrusted to them the world to be cared of. He entrusted them with the stewardship and guardianship of the world, that they would take care of and reign over all creations in the world, but not by their own might, but because they were supposed to be the stewards of the Lord, the true Master of the world and the universe.

But we have grown proud and we gave in to our human greed, beginning from the time when we succumbed to the temptations of Satan, who tempted us with knowledge and power. Ever since then, we have desired all things to ourselves. And in the same way, we grew wicked and disobedient to the way of the Lord. We prefer to walk on our own path, and again and again, we showed that by committing ever more sins in the sight of God and men alike.

Ever since the days of Noah, the times of the Tower of Babel, the peoples of Sodom and Gomorrah, the rebelliousness of the sons of Israel on their way out of exile in Egypt, the wickedness of the kings who ruled after Solomon, and the continued wickedness, eventually culminating with the corruption and the stubbornness of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who rejected Jesus, the Son of God whom the Father had sent into the world.

This was perfectly represented by the parable, where the wicked and evil tenants refused to pay their due, the rent and share of the harvest which they ought to pay to the owner. Servants after servants were sent to them, but they were rejected, tortured and even murdered, precisely as how the people of God, all mankind had constantly refused to listen to God and to His messengers, and killed His servants.

And they also refused to listen to the One whom He had sent to be the Saviour of all, the Messiah and Son of God, Jesus Christ, who foretold of His own suffering and death at the hands of the wicked when He told of this parable to His disciples. It was just as the wicked tenants plotted against the son of the owner out of their own selfish desires, they were unrepentant and rebellious.

In the first reading from the Book of Tobit, we heard how Tobit, one of the exiles of the Northern kingdom of Israel after it was conquered by the Assyrians, continued to do what is upright and good in the sight of God. This is despite all the challenges that he had to face and the mockery which he had to endure from his own people, who mocked him for tirelessly helping those who were destitute and rejected themselves.

Tobit indeed suffered, and misfortunes befell him, as he lost his sight, and people continued to mock him, friends and relatives left him behind and forgot about him, but he remained faithful and devoted to the Lord, just as another faithful man of God, that is Job, had once also experience. Both remained firm in their faith to God, and in the end, they were healed and made whole once again. They received blessings and graces even greater than what they had before.

And today, we also ought to reflect on the life of St. Justin, martyr of the Faith, who was a Roman martyr of persecution of the faithful by the Romans. He was once a pagan and a philosopher, who looked for various teachers and inspirations including from the past philosophers and teachers, but he was not satisfied with all that he had discovered for many years of his education and journey.

St. Justin eventually discovered Christ through his discussion with an elderly Christian, who opened his eyes to the greatness and the truth of the Lord. He found solace and true satisfaction in the Lord, and he changed his pursuit and focus in life to serve the Lord, the one and only God of all.

He eventually preached to many people after he became a Christian, and established a school in Rome, preaching to ever more people, until his enemies and those who feared the Faith accused him of wrongdoing and he was martyred with his followers. And through that, he was raised to the glory of heaven for shedding his blood and life for the sake of the Lord.

All these examples of holy men and servants of God show us that God will reward well all those who had placed their faith and trust in him, namely, the good and faithful tenants who do things according to what they are expected to. These will receive the inheritance and the parts intended to all others who have not been faithful, the wayward and wicked tenants.

As mentioned in the Gospel, the Lord would come just as the vineyard owner came in the end to bring justice and punishment to all the wicked tenants. This should be a reminder to all of us, not to be like the wicked tenants in our lives. Rather, we should be good tenants, namely faithful servants of God and good stewards of this world entrusted to us. We should heed the examples of the holy men, Tobit, Job, St. Justin and his companions, and many others who have devoted themselves to the Lord.

Therefore, let us all pray, that all of us may grow less attached and affected by our human desires and greed, but let us all instead grow stronger in humility, and in our faith and devotion to the Lord our God, so that at the end of all, the Lord may say to us, ‘Well done, My faithful servant. Come into the inheritance I have prepared for you.’ Let us all seek this in life. God be with us all. Amen.

Monday, 1 June 2015 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 12 : 1-12

At that time, using parables, Jesus went on to say, “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a hole for the wine press and built a watch tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenants and went abroad.”

“In due time he sent a servant to receive from the tenants his share of the fruit. But they seized the servant, struck him and sent him back empty-handed. Again the man sent another servant. They also struck him on the head and treated him shamefully.”

“He sent another and they killed him. In the same way they treated many others : some they beat up and others they killed. One was still left, his beloved son. And so, last of all, he sent him to the tenants, for he said, ‘They will respect my son.'”

“But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the one who is to inherit the vineyard. Let us kill him and the property will be ours.’ So they seized him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. Now what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

And Jesus added, “Have you not read this text of the Scriptures : ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the keystone; this is the Lord’s doing, and we marvel at it?'”

They wanted to arrest Him, for they realised that Jesus meant this parable for them, but they were afraid of the crowd; so they left Him and went away.

Monday, 1 June 2015 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 111 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6

Alleluia! Blessed is the one who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commands. His children will be powerful on earth; the upright’s offspring will be blessed.

Wealth and riches are for his family, there his integrity will remain. He is for the righteous a light in darkness. He is kind, merciful and upright.

It will be well with him who lends freely, who leads a life of justice and honesty. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered and loved forever.

Monday, 1 June 2015 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Tobit 1 : 3 and Tobit 2 : 1b-8

I, Tobit, have walked in the ways of truth and justice all the days of my life; I have given many alms to my brethren and to those of my countrymen who were deported with me to Nineveh, a city in the country of the Assyrians.

At the feast of Pentecost, the sacred feast of the Seven Weeks, they prepared a good meal for me and I sat down to eat. I saw the many dishes and said to my son : “Go and bring as many as you can find of our relatives who are in need and who remember the Lord. I will wait here for them.”

When Tobias returned, he said : “Father, one of ours has been strangled and thrown into the public square.” Before I ate anything, I hurried out and carried this man into the house and waited till sunset to bury him. When I returned home I washed myself and ate my food in sorrow. I remembered the prophecy which Amos uttered against Bethel : ‘Your feasts will be turned into mourning. All your songs will be turned into lamentations,’ and I wept.”

After sunset I went out and, after I had dug a trench, I buried the man. My neighbours mocked me, saying : “He no longer fears to be put to death for doing that; he had to flee but look he is again burying the dead.”

Sunday, 31 May 2015 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday, and Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this great and solemn day, we celebrate together the wonderful occasion of the Trinity Sunday, on which day we commemorate and reflect together the very centre tenet of our faith, that is our faith in the Lord our God who is only One, but exists in Three Divine Persons, separate and equal to one another, and united with the perfect bond of love, in Oneness of God, the Triune Unity, Trinity that is bound together as one indissoluble Unity.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is the mystery of our Faith, which we all understand and indeed have to believe if we are to call ourselves as Christians. We believe that there is only one God, who created all the universe, all things that we know of, and all the living ones including us mankind.

And we also believe, that this one God has three different Aspects, all distinct from each other, namely the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but which is united perfectly in love, as God that is only One. One but three, and three but one, this is the greatest mystery of our Faith, and yet it is also the centre of our faith.

For many ages, people have tried to bend this truth to their own selfish desires, by failing to understand the fullness of this mystery of the Trinity. Some trying to contend that because such feat is impossible, then God cannot be Three but One at the same time, and therefore, apostasy and heresy began to appear, apparently condemning the true Faith as those who worshipped many gods, because they thought that God is only one.

And therefore, the same people also did not recognise Jesus Christ, the Son of God as divine and Lord. Some thought that He was merely a creature, a creation of God, which means that He was no more than just a Man. And some also doubted the presence and the existence of the Holy Spirit. All these failed to understand how God works, and if they had read the Scriptures more deeply and carefully, they would have discovered the truth.

Just as we heard in the first reading from the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses spoke about God who created us, and who had cared for us so much with His boundless love, that no being had ever done the same before and after. And all these had its roots back to the foundation of the world and the whole universe, at the moment of creation, when God created everything out of nothingness, as narrated in the Book of Genesis.

The very first pages and the very first verses of the Holy Bible itself would have told us clearly of the nature of God, take for example, the whole account of the creation of the universe and the earth in the first two chapters of the Book of Genesis. There was once nothing, and the Spirit of God was in everything in that nothingness, and then, God willed everything into being, by His words, that is the words that leave His mouth and carried out His will into being.

The Spirit of God is in everything and by the Word, made everything to be. Remember that we believe that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and through the Son? This is how exactly it works. God the Father willed creation into being, and that will is made clear through His Word that proclaimed it to all the universe, and that Word is the Son, if we read the first chapter of the Gospel of St. John.

And the Spirit is then sent to all things, to make all things be, and to give life to all things. Remember what God said when He was about to create mankind in His image? He said, “Let Us make mankind in Our image, in Our likeness.” This is yet another proof of how God is a Trinity and yet a Unity, united in their actions in creating all things, included us all mankind.

God the Father created us with His will, and He achieved that by the Word He spoke, which is the Son, through which He let all creations to know His will, and by the Holy Spirit He made all things to be. The Three Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit all working together as one in perfect harmony. They cannot be separated from each other, and without one of the Trinity, the Divinity is not complete.

And that is how St. Patrick taught about the concept of God who is One and yet Three, as he evangelised to the then pagan peoples of Ireland, by using the symbol of the three-leaf clover, now one of the important symbols of that country. The three-leaf clover is also an important and widely used symbol to represent the Holy Trinity. Just as the three-leaf clover has three parts all connected together to form the whole body of the clover, and that they are not separable, or otherwise, it is no longer a ‘three-leaf’ clover, then it is the same with the Holy Trinity.

And just like a flame has three properties, of its matter, the shape and form of flame itself, the light that emanates out of the flame, and then the heat of the flame itself, it is the same with the Trinity. Without any one of these three properties, a flame is no longer a flame, and yet any of them represents the flame itself. No one can deny after seeing the light of a flame, or feeling the heat of the flame, or touching the matter of the flame itself can deny that it is a flame, and yet, each properties are distinct from each other.

Thus this is the great mystery of our Faith, is it not brothers and sisters? And yet, this is what we believe, and what we always profess and believe in, every time we mention the Holy Trinity in the Creed. I believe in God the Father Almighty, and then in His son, our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us on the cross and who will judge the living and the dead at the end of time, and then in the Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life. 

Brothers and sisters in Christ, do we really mean what we say, every time we utter the words of the Creed? Or do we just repeat it meaninglessly and without understanding like a robot? It is important that we understand how important is our Lord for us, how much He had done for us, and just as the astonished Moses mentioned in the first reading we had today, indeed God had done so much for us.

God the Father had created us from nothingness, and from the dust He formed us and gave us life. And when we erred and went into sin, He ceaselessly loved us and cared for us, hoping for us to repent and change our ways so that we may not fall into eternal damnation. And He sent us none other than His Son, the Word of God made flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ, so that, by the offering of Himself, His own Flesh and Blood, He made us all partakers of the new Covenant He established with us, and those who believe in Him therefore has the path to eternal life.

And last of all, He sent us His Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father and through the Son, to give us a new life, to renew in us the strength and courage in our faith, so that we may truly be brave to choose to walk with the Lord and obey Him in all things despite the opposition of the world. All these showed God’s care and love for us, that the Three parts of the Trinity all working together to secure our redemption and liberation from the darkness and deliverance into the Light.

May on this day, on this solemn feast of the Most Holy Trinity, all of us be awakened to realise the love which the Lord, our Creator, our Nurturer and our Saviour has for us, and enable us to walk righteously in His path from now on, that we may reject all forms of sin and cast out all forms of wickedness from our hearts. May the Most Holy and Blessed Trinity be glorified and be praised forevermore, in heaven and on earth. Glory to God, the Undivided Unity and the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, ever loving God of us all. Amen.

Sunday, 31 May 2015 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday, and Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 28 : 16-20

At that time, the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Jesus, they bowed before Him, although some doubted.

Then Jesus approached them and said, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples from all nations. Baptise them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you. I am with you always, even to the end of this world.”

Sunday, 31 May 2015 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday, and Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Romans 8 : 14-17

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! (this means Dad!) 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.