Friday, 3 June 2016 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 15 : 3-7

At that time, Jesus told the tax collectors and the Pharisees this parable : “Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and seek the lost one till he finds it? And finding it, will he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders?”

“Then he will call his friends and neighbours together, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine decent people, who do not need to repent.”

Friday, 3 June 2016 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Romans 5 : 5b-11

The Holy Spirit has been given to us, pouring into our hearts the love of God. Consider, moreover, the time that Christ died for us : when we were still helpless and unable to do anything. Few would accept to die for an upright person; although, for a very good person, perhaps someone would dare to die.

But see how God manifested His love for us : while we were still sinners, Christ died for us and we have become just through His Blood. With much more reason now He will save us from any condemnation. Once enemies, we have been reconciled with God through the death of His Son; with much more reason now we may be saved through His life.

Not only that; we even boast in God because of Christ Jesus, our Lord, through Whom we have been reconciled.

Friday, 3 June 2016 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

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.

Friday, 3 June 2016 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 34 : 11-16

Indeed YHVH says this : I Myself will care for My sheep and watch over them. As the shepherd looks after his flock when he finds them scattered, so will I watch over My sheep and gather them from all the places where they were scattered in a time of cloud and fog.

I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from other countries. I will lead them to their own land and pasture them on the mountains of Israel in all the valleys and inhabited regions of the land. I will take them to good pastures on the high mountains of Israel. They will rest where the grazing is good and feed in lush pastures on the heights of Israel.

I Myself will tend My sheep and let them rest, word of YHVH. I will search for the lost and lead back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the fat and strong will be eliminated. I will shepherd My flock with justice.

Thursday, 2 June 2016 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyr)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the exchanges between Jesus and a teacher of the Law who asked Him about the most important commandment in the Law. And Jesus gave him the perfect answer, a summary of what the commandments and Law of God is truly about, that is love. For the Law of God is about love, and the love of God has been given to us.

The teachers of the Law, the Pharisees and the scribes at the time of Jesus were renowned for their very strict interpretation and imposition of the Law and the commandments of God, where they punished those who did not obey the laws and ostracised them from the society. They harshly ensured that the people obeyed the laws and ensured that they observed the strict sabbath law.

But Jesus pointed out to them a reality and a fact, how in this pursuit to fulfil the needs of the Law, they have ended up forgetting the true purpose of the Law. They ended up making the laws as mere formality and procedure, and less of understanding its true intent, that is love, and love which is ought to be present in our relationship with one another, and ultimately between us and our God.

God gave us the Law, the commandments and His precepts so that we may learn to love one another, and to love Him with all of our heart, mind and soul. He did not give us the laws and the commandments to unnecessarily burden us with the yoke of laws and rules. Yet, we mankind have often misused and misrepresented God’s good laws and rules to serve our own purposes.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law enforced those rules and laws, because they liked themselves to be seen doing all those rules and obeying the set of laws they have set for themselves, for the purpose of being praised and adored for their deeds. They were serving not God or the people of God, but instead only themselves.

Thus, Jesus often rebuked them and showed His anger on them. It is because not only that they had placed such a burden on the people who had been entrusted under their care, but they also misled the people into believing that God is a fearsome and angry God Who will punish all those who did not fulfil the obligations which had been placed on them. In the end, they followed God not because they loved Him, but because they feared Him.

Therefore, all of us are reminded by St. Paul in his letter to St. Timothy, that we as Christians who believe in God should get rid of all things that have been keeping us away from God and His ways. All of us should find ways to devote ourselves to God through understanding more of the measures which He has taken in order to bring us closer to Him and to save us from certain destruction.

Let us all also keep in mind the examples of the two holy servants of God, St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, whose feast we are commemorating on this day, that we may imitate their examples and follow them in their footsteps to become better disciples of our Lord. They were faithful and committed to God, and they endured suffering and martyrdom for the sake of their faith in God.

St. Marcellinus and St. Peter lived during the early years of the fourth century after the birth of Christ our Lord. They were told to be a priest and an exorcist living during the rule of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who was renowned for his particularly intense persecution of Christians throughout the Empire. They were martyred for their faith, as they refused to stop preaching the faith in God, and they also refused to abandon their faith for the comfort of the pagan gods.

They served the people of God with devotion and zeal, and they cared for the poor and the sick among the faithful, and casting out demons and evil spirits. They loved the people of God in the manner which God had taught us all to do, and they loved others and especially God, their Lord and Master, with all of their hearts, minds and soul, even unto death, refusing to let go of their Lord.

In all these, we should all learn from the examples of these holy saints and servants of God who have given their all to love the Lord their God and to love their fellow men. Let us all devote ourselves anew to God, and renew the faith which all of us have for Him, and do our best in order to serve Him and obey Him with love, and not with just mere formality or for the sake of doing it, as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done.

May God see the love which we have for Him, and may our ways, actions and deeds be found to be worthy and good for our salvation. May God bless us all and strengthen our resolve to be ever more faithful to Him day after day. Amen.

Thursday, 2 June 2016 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyr)

Mark 12 : 28b-34

At that time, a teacher of the Law came up and asked Jesus, “Which commandment is the first of all?”

Jesus answered, “The first is : Hear, Israel! The Lord, our God, is One Lord; and you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. And after this comes a second commandment : You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these two.”

The teacher of the Law said to Him, “Well spoken, Master; You are right when You say that He is one, and there is no other besides Him. To love Him with all our heart, with all our understanding and with all our strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves is more important than any burnt offering or sacrifice.”

Jesus approved this answer and said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask Him any more questions.

Thursday, 2 June 2016 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyr)

Psalm 24 : 4-5ab, 8-9, 10 and 14

Teach me Your ways, o Lord; make known to me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and instruct me, for You are my God, my Saviour.

Good and upright, the Lord teaches sinners His way. He teaches the humble of heart and guides them in what is right.

The ways of the Lord are love and faithfulness for those who keep His covenant and precepts. The Lord gives advice to those who revere Him and makes His covenant known to them.

Thursday, 2 June 2016 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyr)

2 Timothy 2 : 8-15

Remember Christ Jesus, risen from the dead, Jesus, Son of David, as preached in my Gospel. For this Gospel I labour and even wear chains like an evildoer, but the word of God is not chained. And so I bear everything for the sake of the chosen people, that they, too, may obtain the salvation given to us in Christ Jesus and share eternal glory.

This statement is true : If we have died with Him, we shall also live with Him; if we endure with Him, we shall reign with Him; if we deny Him, He will also deny us; if we are unfaithful, He remains faithful for He cannot deny Himself.

Remind your people of these things and urge them in the presence of God not to fight over words, which does no good, but only ruins those who listen. Be for God an active and proved minister, a blameless worker correctly handling the word of truth.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the exchanges between Jesus and the Sadducees, an influential and powerful group in the Jewish society at the time, namely those who practiced and believed in pragmatism and rejecting spirituality and matters beyond what can be deduced with human reasoning, one of the greatest of which is the matter of the resurrection from the dead.

The Sadducees did not believe in spirits, in Angels, in all things that are beyond this world. That is why they were particularly unhappy and angry at what Jesus had been telling the people about the matters of the life after death, the afterlife, and the promise of the eternal life after the death of the physical body. That is why they confronted Him and tried to discredit Him and brought Him into trouble by asking Him a difficult question to trap Him in His own words.

But Jesus gave them a perfect answer and rebuke, when they asked about whose wife would the woman attached to seven brothers be in heaven. Jesus rebuked them for their naivety and failure to look beyond matters of this world. These thought of things that are not important, thinking of woman as mere property and marriage as a mere formality.

They could not comprehend all these because they were thinking in worldly terms. They thought of living at the moment, living for the world that is now, and they even tend to fear of what is to come when people die. That is because firstly they did not believe in life after death, and death is feared as the end of everything. But they were very wrong indeed.

Indeed, all of us Christians have that core faith and belief in God, that we believe in the life of the world to come. That is placed prominently at the very end of our Creed, the Nicene and the Apostles’ Creed, which we recite with faith at every celebrations of the Holy Mass on Sundays. And we also believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, Who suffered, died on the cross and rose again gloriously at the Resurrection.

The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the hope for all of us Christians, and indeed, for all mankind, for through His own resurrection, all of us have been given an undeniable and solid proof of life beyond death, of our eventual triumph over death, and that death does not have the final say over us. We feared death because we saw it as an end, but in fact, death is not the end, rather the beginning of something new.

Today therefore, as in our first reading, as what St. Paul had written to St. Timothy, all of us are urged to stand up for our faith and live with devotion to our God. We must not fear and be afraid just because our faith and beliefs are against that of the world, or if the world persecutes us because we believe in God and His ways. This is how it is supposed to be, and what we must do as those who follow the Lord and His ways.

Today, we commemorate the feast of St. Justin the Martyr, a renowned servant of God whose life can indeed be inspiration for all of us. St. Justin was known especially for his many writings and works, particularly regarding the nature of God, on the nature of the Incarnation of the Logos, the Divine Word of God, Who became Man for our sake, Jesus Christ.

St. Justin explained many of the tenets and aspects of the faith through his many works, and thanks to him, many people grew firmer in their faith and many others were converted from their pagan ways. St. Justin did not fear the opposition of the world and openly preached his faith among the many communities of the faithful at that time. But the world did not remain quiet, and in the end, they persecuted the faithful, including St. Justin, who endured martyrdom for his faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Justin was courageous in his faith and devoted his whole life to serve the Lord, even amidst persecution and challenges laid in his path by the world and the Roman authorities. But, because of his hard works and his devotion to the faith, he has led many others into salvation, by his inspiring examples, which helped to call many more people to remain faithful to God and His ways.

Shall we all therefore also follow his examples and live our faith and our lives with zeal and devotion? We should not be afraid of the world’s rejection, but rather, we should grow ever bolder and stronger in standing up for our faith and our beliefs, against the ways of this world that are against the Lord’s ways.

Let us all hold firm in our beliefs, in what Jesus had taught us all through His Church, that we may not be swayed by the falsehoods of the world. In the Risen Lord, His resurrection has given us the sure hope and the certainty of the future for us if we believe in Him and keep our faith in Him alive. May God help us to remain firmly faithful to Him at all times. God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 12 : 18-27

At that time, the Sadducees also came to Jesus. Since they claim that there is no resurrection, they questioned Him in this way, “Master, in the Scriptures Moses gave us this law : if anyone dies and leaves a wife but no children, his brother must take the woman, and with her have a baby, who will be considered the child of his deceased brother.”

“Now, there were seven brothers. The first married a wife, but he died without leaving any children. The second took the wife, and he also died leaving no children. The same thing happened to the third. In fact, all seven brothers died, leaving no children. Last of all the woman died. Now, in the resurrection, to which of them will she be wife? For all seven brothers had her as wife.”

Jesus replied, “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God? When they rise from the dead, men and women do not marry, but are like Angels in heaven. Now, about the resurrection of the dead, have you never had thoughts about the burning bush in the book of Moses?”

“God said to Moses : ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ He is the God not of the dead but of the living. You are totally wrong.”