Saturday, 26 November 2016 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)
Luke 21 : 34-36

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Be on your guard : do not immerse yourselves in a life of pleasure, drunkenness and worldly cares, lest that day catch you unaware, like a trap! For, like a snare, will that day come upon all the inhabitants of the earth.”

“But watch at all times and pray, that you may be able to escape all that is going to happen, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Saturday, 26 November 2016 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)
Psalm 94 : 1-2, 3-5, 6-7

Come, let us sing to the Lord, let us make a joyful sound to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him giving thanks with music and songs of praise.

For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In His hand are the depths of the earth and the mountain heights. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hand shaped the dry land.

Come and worship; let us bow down, kneel before the Lord, our Maker. He is our God, and we are His people; the flock He leads and pastures. Would that today you heard His voice!

Saturday, 26 November 2016 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)
Revelations 22 : 1-7

Then the Angel showed me the river of life, clear as crystal, gushing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of the city, on both sides of the river are the trees of life producing fruit twelve times, once each month, the leaves of which are for healing the nations.

No longer will there be a curse; the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the City and God’s servants will live in His presence. They will see His face and His Name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light or lamp or sun for God Himself will be their light and they will reign forever.

Then the Angel said to me, “These words are sure and true; the Lord God Who inspires the prophets has sent His Angel to show His servants what must happen soon.” “I am coming soon! Happy are those who keep the prophetic words of this book.”

Friday, 25 November 2016 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we approach the closing of the current liturgical year, all of the Scripture readings which we heard and received all have that ‘Apocalyptic’ slant, that is, many of them are talking about what will happen soon, in the future, when as foretold in the Book of the Revelations of St. John the Apostle, our Lord will come again in His glory to save all of those who are faithful to Him.

And we are told about what will happen at the great and Last Judgment of all the things living and the dead, as we pronounce every time we recite the Creed, when the Lord Jesus, the Great Judge of all will give His judgment on every single one of us, from the lowest among us to the greatest, from the richest to the poorest, from the kings to the lowliest peasants and beggars, all will receive judgment according to their deeds in life, as written in the records of the Lord.

And we are also told how those whose lives have been worthy in the eyes of the Lord have their names written in the Book of Life, while those who have been wicked and been against the Lord and His ways in their lives do not have their names written in that Book. It is a measure of comparing between those worthy and unworthy in the sight of God.

And the Lord’s Judgment is simple, that those who have been found worthy and whose names are in the Book will receive the eternal glory and joy promised to them, and the others whose names are not found in the Book will receive for their part, eternal damnation and suffering, separated from God’s love and grace without any hope of escape or succour.

In the Gospel, we heard Jesus telling His disciples and the people about knowing and being able to discern the sign of times, so that we will not be caught unaware of what will happen, as we have just discussed earlier on. We cannot remain ignorant and complacent in how we live our lives, as many of us tend to do, for the danger is that when the Lord suddenly comes again, we may be caught unprepared, and by then, no amount of regret is going to save us from what is to come.

And how do we prepare ourselves, brothers and sisters in Christ? Then let us all heed what Jesus told His disciples in another occasion in the Gospels when He told them about what will happen at the Last Judgment when He will separate the worthy ones from the unworthy and wicked ones. All of what Jesus told them is about the failure of the wicked ones to stretch out their hands to help out those who are needy, poor, naked, suffering and in prison, while those who are worthy have already done something to help these.

Therefore, that is what we need to do, brothers and sisters in Christ, by making ourselves readily available to help those who are weak, the least and the ostracised ones in our society, those who are unloved and those who have no one to care for them, poor and in need of help. This is what we need to do as Christians, as our form of Christian love and charity to our brethren, what God has asked us all to do.

Today we also celebrate the feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria, who is a devout and holy woman whose examples can be our inspiration on how we should live out our lives in faith. It was told that she was a noble by birth and was renowned by her beauty and also her piety, who converted to the Faith through visions she received from the Lord.

She showed concern for all of her fellow Christians who were suffering under persecution by the then Emperor Maxentius, by challenging the Emperor himself to rescind his persecution order and let the Christians be. The Emperor was told to have gathered over fifty best philosophers to argue with St. Catherine, but they were all soundly defeated by the wisdom of God found in the holy woman and servant of God. Many of them in fact were converted to the faith and would later be martyred together with her.

St. Catherine was arrested and put in prison, and while in prison, her courageous faith and zeal continued to bring forth even more good fruits, and more people converted because of her, and it was told that even the Empress herself believed and was converted, and thus, even the Empress would join St. Catherine in her martyrdom. She met her end knowing fully that God is with her, and through her, many good deeds have been done. She is therefore truly worthy of the Lord and His promise.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be inspired by her examples, by her piety and devotion, and by her dedication and commitment to live a life filled with faith and devotion to God. We should do our best to help one another, and to give our life into a dedication of service to our less fortunate brethren, so that in the end, when it is time for us to give an account of our own lives and be judged, our names will be written in the Book of Life and we shall receive the fullness of God’s promise. May the Lord guide us in this endeavour and bless all of us. Amen.

Friday, 25 November 2016 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)
Luke 21 : 29-33

At that time, Jesus added this comparison, “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as their buds sprout, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.”

“Truly, I tell you, this generation will not pass away, until all this has happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”

Friday, 25 November 2016 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)
Psalm 83 : 3, 4, 5-6a and 8a

My soul yearns, pines, for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young, at Your altars, o Lord of hosts, my King and my God!

Happy are those who live in Your house, continually singing Your praise! Happy the pilgrims whom You strengthen. They go from strength to strength till they appear before God in Zion.

Friday, 25 November 2016 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)
Revelations 20 : 1-4, 11 – Revelations 21 : 2

Then an Angel came down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the Abyss and a huge chain. He seized the monster, the ancient serpent, namely Satan or the devil, and chained him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss and closed its gate with the key, then secured it with locks, that he might not deceive the nations in the future until the thousand years have passed. Then he will be released for a little while.

There were thrones and seated on them were those with the power to judge. I then saw the spirits of those who had been beheaded for having held the teachings of Jesus and on account of the word of God. I saw all those who had refused to worship the beast and its image, or receive its mark on the forehead or on the hand. They returned to life and reigned with the Messiah for a thousand years. This is the first resurrection.

After that I saw a great and splendid throne and the One seated upon it. At once heaven and earth disappeared, leaving no trace. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before the throne while books were opened. Another book, the Book of Life, was also opened. Then the dead were judged according to the records of these books, that is, each one according to his works.

The sea gave up the dead it had kept, as did death and the netherworld, so that all might be judged according to their works. Then death and the netherworld were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. All who were not recorded in the Book of Life were thrown into the lake of fire.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had passed away and no longer was there any sea. I saw the new Jerusalem, the holy city coming down from God, out of heaven, adorned as a bride prepared for her husband.

Thursday, 24 November 2016 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the feast of the faithful servants of God who worked hard to spread the Good News and the faith in the region now known as Vietnam. One of them was St. Andrew Dung-Lac, one the first local Vietnamese priests who with many of his fellow Christians, missionaries and priests were put to death and endured great sufferings for their faith in God.

At that time, the regime of the Vietnamese Empire was led by staunchly anti-Christian party, who viewed the faith with an extreme suspicion and dislike, and they were mistakenly seen as collaborators to the foreign forces, and therefore gained the instant opposition from those who were in power. The missionaries and those who helped them were facing great difficulties and were threatened with suffering and even death.

Yet, they did not fear and neither did they back down from the mission which had been presented to them, which is the conversion of souls and redemption of sinners, by the means of evangelisation. And by their hard work and dedication, they had gained many converts to the faith, who themselves had to endure great persecutions and difficulties, as the authorities tried very hard to stamp out the growing Christian community.

And from the local communities rose even more devoted people who took up the cross and the calling of the Lord, joining the sacred order of priesthood as St. Andrew Dung-Lac had done. Many others helped the work of evangelisation in various ways, as priests or religious or the laity. The faith grew and spread quickly, and many more souls were saved, but this brought even greater persecution against them.

And thus that was how many of these faithful were forced to choose between life and death, in either continuing to serve the Lord faithfully and die or to recant their faith and reject their Lord and be allowed to live. Many of the faithful chose to be faithful and remained true to their Lord and Master despite all the threats made against them. And thus they met their end with courage and joy in martyrdom, knowing that their reward in God is great at the end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the examples of the Vietnamese Martyrs of the Faith, St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his many companions in faith, the religious, priests and missionaries and even the faithful among the laity should become inspiration for each and every one of us Christians living today, as the reality of persecution and opposition by the world and all those opposed to our salvation in God is indeed true and real.

Yes, even today many of our brethren in faith still suffer the daily effects of rejection, ridicule and persecution by the world, by worldly authorities and all those who do not seek to see us be saved by the Lord Jesus, and many even had to risk their lives in practicing their faith, and often have to practice their faith secretly under the pain of death, and yet they often face the challenges with courage and commitment to God.

We should help one another, brethren, supporting those who are in need of our help. We should pray for one another, and ask the Lord to help and guide us through these turbulent and uncertain times. We should not fear or give in to the demands from those whose intent is our destruction, as we have to hold fast to the promise God made to all those who remain true and faithful to Him, that to them, He will grant the true joy of having everlasting life with Him.

And God is forever faithful and completely trustworthy, brothers and sisters in Christ, unlike us mankind who can be unreliable and untrustworthy. We can put our trust in God without fear or doubt. Now, what we need to do is, look at our own respective lives, look at our actions and deeds, and then think of what we can do and contribute in order to bring ourselves closer to God, fulfilling His will and desires.

May the Lord help and guide us, and may through the intercessions of St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions, the holy Vietnamese martyrs, we may grow ever more committed in living our lives filled with faith, and thus in the end of the days, we are worthy to share with them the eternal kingship and the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, when He comes again as King to rule over us forevermore. May God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 24 November 2016 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Luke 21 : 20-28

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that the time has come when it will be reduced to a wasteland. If you are in Judea, flee to the mountains! If you are in Jerusalem, leave! If you are outside the city, do not enter it!”

“For these will be the days of its punishment, and all that was announced in the Scriptures will be fulfilled. How hard will it be for pregnant women, and for mothers with babies at the breast! For a great calamity will come upon the land, and wrath upon this people. They will be put to death by the sword, or taken as slaves to other nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled upon by the pagans, until the time of the pagans is fulfilled.”

“Then there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations, perplexed when they hear the roaring of the sea and its waves. People will faint with fear at the mere thought of what is to come upon the world, for the forces of the universe will be shaken. Then, at that time, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

“So, when you see things begin to happen, stand erect and lift up your heads, for your deliverance is drawing near.”

Thursday, 24 November 2016 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 4, 5

Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God; He created us and we are His people, the sheep of His fold.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His Name.

For the Lord is good; His love lasts forever and His faithfulness through all generations.