Saturday, 30 September 2017 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scriptures speaking to us first of all from the prophet Zechariah who spoke about God’s dwelling amongst His people, for they are His people and He is their God. Many people would come to seek God and to be His people, and He would be their God.

Then in the Gospel today we heard Jesus our Lord speaking about the betrayal that would happen to Him, as His own disciple would betray Him to the chief priests, namely Judas Iscariot. Yet the disciples failed to understand this, even after Jesus had repeated the same prediction a few times. That is because they were not able to open their hearts and minds to welcome God’s truth into them.

In our world today there are still a lot of people who have not yet known God or understood His truths and teachings. And in fact, within the Church itself, for various reasons, there are still many of the faithful who have not possessed an adequate understanding of the faith, who do not live the faith as how it should have been lived.

That is why, there is a need for all of us Christians to be closely attached to the Word of God, through which we gained the knowledge of our faith, by the guidance from the Church, that we may better appreciate and understand what our faith is really about, and what is required from us all as Christians. And this Word of God, is the Holy Scriptures, God’s very own words as passed down to us through His prophets and messengers.

It is through the Scriptures that all of us read about the history of our salvation, beginning from the time when mankind first fell into sin and darkness, and then how God had, in numerous occasions, intervened for the sake of humanity, saving them from their distress, among them include the saving of Noah from the Great Flood that destroyed all the wicked men, and His salvation of the Israelites from the slavery in Egypt.

And we can know all these because of our exposure and regular immersion with the texts from the Holy Scriptures. It is apt and fitting today that we also celebrate the feast of St. Jerome, one of the great Church fathers, an ascetic and pious man, who was remembered especially for his translation of the Greek Septuagint Bible into the Latin Vulgate Bible, giving more people access to the wealth of messages and knowledge contained within the Book of the Word of God.

All of us need to ask ourselves, and reflect on how much effort we have put into ensuring that we constantly and regularly make the effort to read and understand the Holy Scriptures. Certainly, many of us had not done what we should have done, and as expected from us, because many of us would have found it even a waste of time and meaningless for us to read the Bible, less so to understand its passages.

Yet, without understanding the Scriptures, it will be difficult for us as Christians to understand what it is that God wants us to do in our lives. Consequently, we will end up getting more and more distant and separated from God, and then lose our way in this journey of life, easily falling into the traps that Satan and his allies have prepared for us, that we may end up facing our downfall through sin.

Let us all therefore follow the examples of St. Jerome, who devoted himself thoroughly to the Lord, in studying His will and commandments, and even unto translating the entire Scriptures for the benefit for the people of God. Let us all spend more and more time dedicating ourselves to read the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, with the guidance of the Church and adhering to the teachings of the Church, that we may draw ever closer to the Lord.

May God be with us all, and may He continue to allow the faith in us to grow and deepen as we spend more and more time in dedication to Him. May the Word of God be our guide and inspiration in life. Amen.

Saturday, 30 September 2017 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 43b-45

At that time, while all were amazed at everything Jesus did, He said to His disciples, “Listen, and remember what I tell you now : The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men.” But the disciples did not understand this saying; something prevented them from grasping what He meant, and they were afraid to ask Him about it.

Saturday, 30 September 2017 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Jeremiah 31 : 10, 11-12ab, 13

Hear the word of YHVH, o nations, proclaim it on distant coast lands : He Who scattered Israel will gather them and guard them as a shepherd guards his flock.

For YHVH has ransomed Jacob and redeemed him from the hand of his conqueror. They shall come shouting for joy, while ascending Zion; they will come streaming to YHVH’s blessings.

Maidens will make merry and dance, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness, I will give them comfort and joy for sorrow.

Saturday, 30 September 2017 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Zechariah 2 : 5-9, 14-15a

Raising my eyes again, I saw a man with a measuring line in his hand. I asked, “Where are you going?” He answered, “I am going to measure Jerusalem, to find its width and its length.”

As the Angel who spoke to me came forward, another Angel met him and said, “Run and tell this to that young man : ‘Jerusalem will remain unwalled because of its multitude of people and livestock.’ For this is the word of YHVH : I, Myself, will be around her like a wall of fire, and also within her, in glory.”

“Sing and rejoice, o daughter of Zion, for I am about to come, I shall dwell among you,” says YHVH. “On that day, many nations will join YHVH and be My people.”

Friday, 29 September 2017 : Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Archangels, St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael, the three Archangels named and mentioned in the Scriptures, considered the foremost and the greatest among the Angels of God in heaven. Each of them has their own specific roles in fulfilling the will of God and assisting the people of God.

St. Michael the Archangel is the leader of all the heavenly hosts, the Prince over all the Angels. He was chosen to lead all the Angels of God, not because he was the mightiest or the greatest among them, but because of his obedience to the will of God, his Lord and Master. His name, Michael, means ‘Who is like God’, the very utterance of challenge against Satan, who since the beginning of time had challenged God for the rule of the universe.

Satan was the greatest among all of the Angels of God, reputedly the most beautiful and brilliant amongst all of God’s Angels. Yet, in his brilliance and wonders, he grew proud and arrogant, seeking to become the ruler of all creation, replacing God and sitting on His throne. For this insolence and disobedience against God, Satan was cast out of heaven with all those who followed him, who became the fallen angels and demons.

It was told that, St. Michael the Archangel rebuked Satan directly, challenging Satan for having attempted to usurp God’s glory and throne. And he rallied the forces of Heaven, assembling all the faithful Angels, and as told in the Book of the Apocalypse or Revelations of St. John in chapter 12, St. Michael and his Angels drove Satan and the fallen angels out from heaven to their downfall.

Yet, having been defeated, Satan and his allies did not give up. They still tried to win the warfare and targetted God’s beloved creation, mankind. Not only that Satan tempted our ancestors and made them to fall into sin, but he and his allies constantly attempted to tempt the sons and daughters of men throughout all time, persuading them, coercing them, and even pressurising them through many temptations and tribulations to make them to fall into sin and damnation.

Thus, we used to regularly pray the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, asking him to protect us together with the company of Angelic hosts, defending us in the constant battle and spiritual warfare against those who seek our downfall, Satan and his fellow fallen angels who are always trying to snatch us away from our salvation in God. I encourage all of us to continue this venerable practice, and seek the help from this great and mighty prince of Angels.

Meanwhile, St. Gabriel the Archangel was known for his role in the Annunciation, as the messenger of God’s will and words, in which he declared to Mary, the mother of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, what God has planned for her and for the salvation of mankind. He was the bearer of the Good News to mankind, the bane of Satan and his allies, for having heard the message born by the great Archangel, they knew that their days were numbered.

For God’s will shall be done in the end, and no matter how much Satan tried to struggle or to plot against Him, he was in the end, a mere creation who was also subject to God’s authority and will. He has to submit to God, and despite all of his efforts, God will triumph in the end. And the good news of that eventual triumph has been delivered to all of us through His Archangel, St. Gabriel.

We should therefore also pray to St. Gabriel the Archangel, that through his intercession, God will send His Angels to encourage and reinvigorate our spirits, that despite the darkened and difficult times, and despite the great challenges in life, we will not easily give up the fight, and succumb to the temptations. St. Gabriel the Archangel has brought the message of hope to us mankind, and we should rejoice because of it.

Then, St. Raphael the Archangel is another Archangel mentioned in the Bible, who appeared to two people in separate troubles, namely Tobit and Sara in the book of Tobit. Tobit was a faithful servant of God who got into trouble for standing up for his fellow countrymen, and he lost his eyesight in an accident. While Sara was a woman who have been beset by a demon, Asmodeus, who killed seven of her previous husbands.

Both of them suffered and were in great distress, when they prayed to God and God listened to their pleas. He sent the Archangel St. Raphael to help both Tobit and Sara, and through the works of St. Raphael, God healed Tobit and restored his eyesight, while the demon Asmodeus was chased away from Sara, and she was troubled no longer by the demon.

In this, we see how God also healed His people through the Angels, sending them St. Raphael the Archangel as the bringer of God’s healing and restoration. Therefore, let us all also pray to St. Raphael the Archangel, asking him to intercede for our sake, that God may heal all of us from our afflictions, just as He has healed Tobit and Sara. Most importantly, we pray that God will heal us from the worst affliction of all, which is sin that brings about death.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all ask the Holy Archangels, St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael to pray for our sake, to intercede for us, that God may send His holy Angels to be with us, to guide us and to protect us, especially from the attacks from Satan and his allies, who seek our downfall and destruction. Let us all pray the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel together.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray, and do thou, o Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.