Thursday, 3 December 2015 : Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Priest and Patron of Missions (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we remember in our memory the great saint and missionary, St. Francis Xavier, patron saint of missions and the saint whose many works had allowed for the propagation of the faith and the spreading of the Church throughout many parts of the world, including and especially that of Asia and its many regions.

St. Francis Xavier is a role model for us all, and many still walked and followed in his footsteps even after all these years. After all, without his contributions, there would not be the Church in the many parts of Asia, such as India, Malaysia, Singapore and Indochina, Indonesian Archipelago, China and further beyond even up to Japan. This great saint is one of the many saints whose efforts spearheaded the evangelising mission of the Church to the many peoples who have not yet heard about the Lord.

And in his journeys he encountered many difficulties, challenges, and even rejections by the people to whom he was going to minister and preach. There were those who refused to listen to the word that he preached, the Good News that he had carried with him, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. But all these did not make St. Francis Xavier and his fellow missionaries to give up, and instead he tried all the harder.

What we heard in the Scripture readings today are the exhortations and reminders for us that as a follower and disciple of our Lord, we all have certain obligations and missions that have been entrusted to us. And one of our chief tasks is for us to be witnesses of God’s truth and the Good News of His salvation, and preach these to the people, in particular those who have not yet heard of them, or to those who have fallen and failed along the way.

And we cannot think that the works of St. Francis Xavier and all those missionaries who have toiled and laboured hard for God and for His people are done and completed. The work is always there, and there is always likely something for us to do, for the sake of those who are still lost and who are still unable to find their way to reach out to the Lord.

We are the new missionaries of our own time, just as it becomes the obligation of all the faithful to testify for their faith and become witnesses for our Lord, and be the bearers of His salvation to many more people. In this we have to heed the mission which God had entrusted to His Apostles and to the other disciples just before He was about to leave and ascend into Heaven.

His command was so that all the nations will receive the baptism of the Lord and that they will listen to the Good News and believe in all that the disciples of the Lord, as the witnesses God has appointed to be those who will be able to testify the truths that Jesus Himself had revealed to the whole world. And through us, many good works will be done for the greater glory of God and for our own salvation.

As those who have been called and chosen from the world to be the followers of Christ, we cannot profess to be ignorant of the plight of those who have not yet attained salvation in the Lord because they have not yet heard or witnessed the Good News of our God. Instead, it is our duty and obligation to show them the way to the Lord. We have to do our best, so that we may each other be able to find our way to the eternal life God had promised all of His faithful.

Therefore, as we prepare for the coming of the joyous and festive season of Christmas, let us all also take note that we should not forget about the less fortunate and those who are weak, sick and dying. Rather, let us all share whatever goods and blessings we have with one another, so that we can enjoy together and celebrate together the spirit of Christmas, that is thanksgiving for all the goodness and love God had shown us all.

Let us all imitate Him in all of our words, deeds and actions, so that in all the things we do, we will inspire many others, those who look at us, hear us and witness our acts, will see God’s works being done through us. In the footsteps of the missionaries like St. Francis Xavier, we as the new missionaries of the Lord should practice what we believe in, or else no one will believe in what we preach or teach to them.

Let us all lead by example and be inspiration to others around us, inspired by St. Francis Xavier and his works. Let us all devote ourselves, our time and our commitment to bring God’s Good News to more and more people, so that more and more souls can be saved from death and damnation, and be brought together as one people into the glory of Heaven. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 3 December 2015 : Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Priest and Patron of Missions (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 16 : 15-20

At that time, Jesus told His disciples, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation. The one who believes and is baptised will be saved; the one who refuses to believe will be condemned.”

“Signs like these will accompany those who have believed : in My Name they will cast out demons and speak new languages; they will pick up snakes, and if they drink anything poisonous, they will be unharmed; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

So then, after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and took His place at the right hand of God. The Eleven went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.

Thursday, 3 December 2015 : Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Priest and Patron of Missions (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 116 : 1-2

Alleluia! Praise the Lord, all you nations; all you peoples, praise Him. How great is His love for us! His faithfulness lasts forever.

Thursday, 3 December 2015 : Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Priest and Patron of Missions (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 9 : 16-19, 22-23

Because I cannot boast of announcing the Gospel : I am bound to do it. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! If I preached voluntarily, I could expect my reward, but I have been trusted this office against my will. How can I, then, deserve a reward? In announcing the Gospel, I will do it freely without making use of the rights given to me by the Gospel.

So, feeling free with everybody, I have become everybody’s slave in order to gain a greater number. To the weak I made myself weak, to win the weak. So I made myself all things to all people in order to save, by all possible means, some of them. This I do for the Gospel, so that I too have a share of it.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015 : 1st Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the great love of God, the love which He had shown to us all ever since the day when He created all things and all of us from nothingness. This love He had manifested to us in many forms, caring for us and for our forefathers, as He will also love all those who are yet to come, but the greatest expression of His love came through Jesus, His Son.

For in Jesus is our salvation and redemption. We know how He came into this world, and by taking into account our own sins, and putting all of those burdens upon Himself, He took up all the sins of the entire world, and having bore all these, He made all peoples to be righteous as long as they accept Him and welcome Him as their Lord and Saviour.

For our destiny was once to perish and to be destroyed, since because of our disobedience, the sins that have tainted our bodies, minds and souls, we have been made unworthy of our Lord Who despises all forms of sins and wickedness. However, we have to note how strong God’s love is for us, as His love surpasses even His hatred and disgust for our sins and wickedness.

It was this love that was manifested in Jesus, and through Him, God showed His love, care and concern, especially for those who are lost on their way to Him, those who have little or nothing, those who are hungry and thirsty, and all those who are sick and dying, and indeed all of us, since we are all sickened by sin, the disease that is slowly eating away at our beings from the inside.

And God Who loves all of us will not leave us alone to rot and die alone in the darkness. Neither will He let the devil and his fellow fallen angels to take us away in chains to suffer with them for eternity in hell fire. Sin leads to death, and death leads to hell, but God had made it known that death and evil will not have the final say. Death has been defeated and conquered by He Who conquered death, Who rose by His own might and power to be the first to be risen from the dead.

And He also showed His love by feeding us, as we witnessed in the Gospel today, in how He showed compassion for those who were hungry, the people who followed Him, and fed them with the loaves of bread, multiplying few loaves of bread until He could feed the entire crowd of thousands of men, women and children. All who were fed were made full and satisfied.

But this was not all that God had provided, for the food that satisfied the stomach is only temporary and will not last. Instead, God provides for us the very eternal and true food, the sustenance that rejuvenates us and our souls, bringing us hope and light when we lie in darkness and when evil days and the wicked spirits lie around us, waiting for our destruction.

And that food is the Body and Blood, Most Precious and Holy, which our Lord had given to us all in the Eucharist, and by partaking in those gifts, we have welcomed the Lord Who is now dwelling within us and Who is with us, as the ultimate sign of His love. He is always with us, protecting us and guiding us, just as a Shepherd guides and leads His flock into the right paths and away from harm.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, after witnessing and understanding so much about God’s great love for us, let us all therefore commit ourselves anew to Him, and remember that as we make our preparations to celebrate Christmas, it is important that we put Christ at the centre of our celebrations, of our joys and happiness, so that we may give Him thanks, He Who had brought us a new hope by His entry into the world, and He Who showed compassion to us when we are downtrodden and destitute. May God bless us always, now and forever. Amen.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015 : 1st Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 15 : 29-37

At that time, from the region of Tyre and Sidon Jesus went to the shore of Lake Galilee, and then went up into the hills, where He sat down. Great crowds came to Him, bringing the dumb, the blind, the lame, the crippled, and many with other infirmities.

The people carried them to the feet of Jesus, and He healed them. All were astonished when they saw the dumb speaking, the lame walking, the cripple healed, and the blind able to see; and they glorified the God of Israel.

Jesus called His disciples and said to them, “I am filled with compassion for these people; they have already followed Me for three days and now have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away fasting, or they may faint on the way.”

His disciples said to Him, “And where shall we find enough bread in this wilderness to feed such a crowd?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They answered, “Seven, and a few small fish.”

So Jesus ordered the people to sit on the ground. Then He took the seven loaves and the small fish and gave thanks to God. He broke them and gave them to His disciples, who distributed them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the leftover broken pieces filled seven wicker baskets.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015 : 1st Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 22 : 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters, He restores my soul.

He guides me through the right paths for His Name’s sake. Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are beside me : Your rod and Your staff comfort me.

You spread a table before me in the presence of my foes. You anoint my head with oil; my cup is overflowing.

Goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life, I shall dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015 : 1st Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 25 : 6-10a

On this mountain YHVH Sabaoth will prepare for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, meat full of marrow, fine wine strained. On this mountain He will destroy the pall cast over all peoples, this very shroud spread over all nations, and death will be no more.

The Lord YHVH will wipe away the tears from all cheeks and eyes; He will take away the humiliation of His people all over the world : for YHVH has spoken. On that day you will say : This is our God. We have waited for Him to save us, let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation. For on this mountain the hand of YHVH rests.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015 : 1st Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, as is common during the season of Advent, the preparation season before the celebration of Christmas, we heard about the promise of God of the coming of a Deliverer, of the descendants of Jesse and David, Who would come to save the world and bring peace and true harmony upon it, the Messiah and Saviour of the world.

God has revealed all of His intentions, His love for us and His desire for us to be reconciled and reunited with Him through His own Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who have shown the future that awaits us if we listen to Him, know and understand His will, and follow His ways in our lives and in all the things we do in this life. God does not wish for us to be destroyed because of our own sins and wickedness, but He hopes that all of us will eventually find our own way to Him.

People from throughout the ages, ever since the days of Adam, the days of Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses and David, and from the days of the kings and the prophets all have waited very long for the coming of the Lord’s deliverance and the fulfilment of all His promises which He had made to all of us. To all of them God had promised that men will be brought out of their misery and their slavery to sin, and the glory of God will be with men, and He will dwell with them, as God who is with His people, Emmanuel.

And for so long the people could only hope and wish to see, know and witness the coming of the time of deliverance, and they could not see it, even though they longed for it. That was what Jesus meant when He said to His disciples that they were truly blessed to have been able to witness the events as they unfolded at that time, for they themselves were witnesses to the works of God’s salvation.

And at the same time, there were also so many other people who were also blessed to be witnesses of God’s direct works of bringing His salvation to them, including even the Pharisees, the elders, the teachers of the Law and the scribes. Judging by looking at the number of times these people actually followed Jesus and His disciples, and how many times they have tried to test the Lord and doubted Him, they would have been the ones to witness our Lord’s works the most!

And yet, as we know it, and as we have witnessed throughout the Gospels, many if these people refused to believe in Him, and even though their eyes had seen, their ears had heard, and their own hands and feet had felt and witnessed the great works of the Lord made through Jesus, His Son, our Lord and Saviour, they deemed those works as the works of the devil.

Remember what the Lord had said to Thomas, His disciple? Thomas was not around when the Lord appeared to His disciples for the first time after His resurrection, and he refused to believe that the Lord had risen from the dead. Yet, when Jesus finally appeared to him on the next occasion, he believed and proclaimed his faith before Jesus. And Jesus praised all those who have not seen and yet believed.

Jesus did not rebuke Thomas for his faith, as it is still better for someone to believe after seeing the truth, rather than those who have seen, and yet refused to believe. Indeed, for all of us, we should ask ourselves, as we have not seen directly what the Lord had done for His people, do we then truly believe in Him? Is our faith truly genuine or is it just a passing statement?

Let this be something for all of us to ponder on, as we prepare ourselves to celebrate Christmas, the joy and the celebration of the day of our Lord’s birth into this world. Let us all ask ourselves, have we truly believed in Him? And have we then taken this consideration into account as we celebrate and have all the joys in Christmas? Is Christ even somewhere in our celebrations? Or is the celebration just about ourselves and about us being happy?

Christmas is not just about the gifts, the merrymaking and all the happiness we have by all the holidays, the shopping and all the time we have to enjoy in revelry with one another. It is truly about the Lord, about giving thanks to the One Who had made it all possible for us. Without Christmas, when our Lord willingly came down into this world in order to save us, there would have been no hope for us, save for eternal damnation.

Let us all therefore refocus our attention to the Lord, and as we prepare to celebrate Christmas this Advent, let us all make our celebrations more proper and meaningful by placing our Lord Jesus Christ at the centre of all our celebrations and joys. May we all find true joy in Him, our Lord and our Saviour. God bless us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015 : 1st Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 10 : 21-24

At that time, Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and made them known to little ones. Yes, Father, such has been Your gracious will.”

“I have been given all things by My Father, so that no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

Then Jesus turned to His disciples and said to them privately, “Fortunate are you to see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings would have liked to see what you see, but did not see it; and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”