Friday, 1 July 2016 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Amos 8 : 4-6, 9-12

Hear this, you who trample on the needy to do away with the weak of the land. You who say, “When will the new moon or the sabbath feast be over that we may open the store and sell our grain? Let us lower the measure and raise the price; let us cheat and tamper with the scales, and even sell the refuse with the whole grain. We will buy up the poor for money and the needy for a pair of sandals.”

YHVH says, “On that day I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your festivals into mourning and all your singing into wailing. Everyone will mourn, covered with sackcloth and every head will be shaved. I will make them mourn as for an only son and bring their day to a bitter end.”

YHVH says, “Days are coming when I will send famine upon the land, not hunger for bread or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of YHVH. Men will stagger from sea to sea, wander to and fro, from north to east, searching for the word of YHVH, but they will not find it.”

Thursday, 30 June 2016 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the feast and memorial of the very first martyrs of the Holy Roman Church, those who have given their lives in the defence of their faith in God, refusing to bend down to the pagan gods and idols and remaining true to the Lord their God to the very end. These martyrs showed us what it meant to be true to our Lord and to remain to God in all the things we do in this life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, those martyrs risked their lives to walk through the streets, helping the poor and those who were willing and wanting to listen to the word of God. They fearlessly followed the way of the Lord amidst even the many challenges they faced, just as the prophets of old. The prophet Amos was among these prophets, who preached about God to the wayward people of the northern kingdom of Israel.

The prophet Amos was reviled, mocked, ridiculed and rejected. He was treated with wickedness and was deemed as a doomsayer and as a bringer of evil and wicked news, as he was preaching about the punishments which God was about to bring to the people of the northern kingdom for their disobedience and lack of faith against God. For their sins and disobedience had brought about the anger of God, and their punishment is because of their own doing.

But they refused to listen to his words and instead, they rejected him and made his life very difficult. The same things had been done by the pagans and the enemies of the people of God as they rejected the message of salvation which the holy martyrs and saints brought to them, and they persecuted these holy people thinking that by doing so they would finally be able to get rid of these troublesome people who irked them with their preaching and words.

In that manner therefore, those who made the servants of God to suffer have committed sin before God, but not all of them had done what their fellow people had done. There were quite a few among the pagans themselves who were inspired by the example of the Christians whom they tortured and persecuted, and some of the persecutors even eventually became Christians themselves, and faced martyrdom on their own.

We also recall the examples of St. Paul, who once as Saul also persecuted the faithful harshly and without mercy. He hunted them down in many places and brought them to great sufferings. They feared him and cowered in fear when he approached their cities. And yet, God had a different plan for him, called him on the way to Damascus, and revealed His truth before him. And he had a complete transformation of his life.

These examples should inspire us all, brothers and sisters in Christ, for God Himself had spoken that He shall be with all of His faithful ones, and He will not abandon them to their enemies. Those who keep their faith to God will not be disappointed. And it is important that we ourselves also remain true to Him even though we face great difficulties and challenges from those who refused to believe in God.

Let us all heed the examples of the holy martyrs and saints, the holy Apostles and disciples of our Lord who had been so courageous and brave in defending and standing up for their faith, and hope that we ourselves may also do the same too. May all of us be stronger in our faith and devotion to God, and be ever more committed to God through our actions filled with faith and love for God. God bless us all. Amen.