Thursday, 18 October 2018 : Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together the feast day of one of the four writers of the Holy Gospels, or also known as the Evangelists. St. Luke was a renowned physician and a disciple who followed St. Paul during part of his journeys and missions throughout the Eastern Mediterranean area. He was also the one who was regarded as the writer of the Acts of the Apostles, documenting the works of the Apostles in the evangelising of the Gentiles, especially that of St. Paul the Apostle.

In the first reading today, we are presented with the reality of such a dedication to the Lord as an Apostle, or as an Evangelist like St. Luke. St. Paul wrote to one of his fellow elders of the Church, his protege, St. Timothy, about how he was troubled and in difficult times, having been abandoned even by those who had been with him during his missionary journeys. Those have abandoned him for various reasons, and only St. Luke remained with him.

In order to appreciate the full nature of the challenges and the difficulties that St. Paul faced at that time, we must understand the historical background of what happened during the time when St. Paul wrote to St. Timothy. St. Paul had to endure many difficult moments, in various places, when the people refused to listen to him and his fellow disciples. The Jews and the Gentiles alike in those various places chased them out, and even stoned them in one occasion, leaving St. Paul and St. Barnabas, another of St. Paul’s fellow missionary, almost dead.

At that time, the Jewish authorities, consisting of the Jewish High Priest, the priests and the Pharisees, were against the Christian faith and the works of the disciples. The Jews in the various places across the diaspora were also influenced to a certain extent by the Jewish authorities, and some among these stirred trouble among the disciples and opposed the work of the Christian elders.

And they also incited trouble for the Christians with the Roman authorities, by spreading lies and untruths about them to the authorities. As a result, the Romans also made it difficult for the Apostles to work in their various places. Meanwhile, among the Gentiles, while the disciples managed to gain many followings, but there were also many of those who refused to believe in them and misunderstood their teachings, causing more difficulties for the Christians.

This was already mentioned clearly by the Lord Himself before His disciples, as mentioned in our Gospel passage today. As He sent them out before Him to prepare His way, He has already mentioned how there would be rejections and difficulties, and He told them of what to expect and what to do in those cases when the people they were sent to, refused to believe in the message of the Lord.

And He reminded them that while there were probably many of those who refused to see the truth in God’s ways, but there were also many of those who were willing and wanting to listen to the truth. This is the rich harvest that the Lord mentioned to His disciples, waiting for labourers and workers to collect them all. Otherwise, as all the farmers then should know, without sufficient number of labourers and harvesters, the harvest crops will rot and be destroyed.

Therefore, without the work of the labourers of the Lord, then the rich harvests of the Lord, all of His people who are desiring and wishing to know of Him would not be able to hear of the Lord’s truth, and therefore, be lost to the Lord. The Apostles and the disciples of the Lord had done their part, in their ceaseless works and labours amongst the people of God, Jews and Gentiles alike amidst the difficult times and persecutions that they had to face.

St. Luke also contributed in his own way, by the power of his pen, inspired by the Holy Spirit, speaking the truth to the people of God, through the Gospel he wrote, which contained the essence of God’s truth, in the life of the Lord, His teachings, His many works, and all that He has revealed to the world, to all of us. Together, the Apostles, the Evangelists and the disciples of the Lord have shown us all what being a true labourer of the world entails.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us as Christians are called to follow in the footsteps of these faithful and courageous servants of the Lord, that we, through our own actions and interactions with those whom we encounter in our daily lives, be the same bearers of God’s truth. There are many ways in which this can be done, and we can begin from as simple as within our families and within our immediate communities.

What we need to do is for us to take concrete steps in living our lives with faith, that we truly embody that faith we believe in, and others who see us will come to believe in the same truth and faith which we possess. And we also need to realise the reality of suffering, rejection and even persecution at times when we stand up for our faith and really practicing what we believe in our lives. But we must trust in the Lord and remember that He will always be with us, regardless of all the things we encounter.

May the Lord help us all, to be able to devote ourselves and to serve Him just as St. Luke the Evangelist has given his effort to spread the Good News and the truth which God has revealed to him through the Holy Spirit. Let us pray that God will send us His Holy Spirit as well, that we will grow ever more courageous in our respective lives, to live in accordance with our faith. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 18 October 2018 : Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 10 : 1-9

At that time, the Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples, and sent them, two by two, ahead of Him, to every town and place, where He Himself was to go. And He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to His harvest. Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know.”

“Whatever house you enter, first bless them, saying, ‘Peace to this house!’ If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house.”

“When they welcome you to any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there, and say to them : ‘The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.'”

Thursday, 18 October 2018 : Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 144 : 10-11, 12-13ab, 17-18

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o YHVH, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom, and speak of Your power.

That all may know of Your mighty deeds, Your reign, and its glorious splendour. Your reign is from age to age; Your dominion endured, from generation to generation.

Righteous is YHVH in all His ways, His mercy shows in all His deeds. He is near those who call on Him, who call trustfully upon His Name.

Thursday, 18 October 2018 : Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Timothy 4 : 10-17b

You must know, that Demas has deserted me, for the love of this world : he returned to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke remains with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is a useful helper in my work. I sent Tychicus to Ephesus.

Bring with you the cloak I left at Troas, in Carpos’ house, and also the scrolls, especially the parchments. Alexander, the metalworker, has caused me great harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. Distrust him, for he has been very much opposed to our preaching.

At my first hearing in court, no one supported me; all deserted me. May the Lord not hold it against them. But the Lord was at my side, giving me strength, to proclaim the word fully, and to let all the pagans hear it.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Scriptures through which we first heard of the contrasting fruits of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit. The fruits of the flesh were that of fornication, evil, wickedness, greed, desires for worldly pleasures and the corruption of the body, heart, mind and soul. While the fruits of the Spirit were those of love, hope, kindness, fidelity and more good fruits that came from the Lord.

And then we heard from the Gospel of the rebuke which the Lord Jesus made upon the Pharisees, in harsh terms, with regards to their attitude and way of living their faith, which were hypocritical in nature, when they showed their external acts of piety, their devotions and prayers, not for the love which they had for God, but rather because of their self-serving attitude and desire to gain human praise and worldly glory.

The Lord also criticised the way they handled certain matters of the faith, and in how they enforced and carried out the laws of the Lord as according to Moses. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were supposed to be the guardians of the Law and those who were entrusted with the judgment and the leadership of the people, as those who showed the way for the people to live in accordance with God’s will.

However, in reality, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were corrupt in their judgment and in their faith. They were arbitrary in their judgment, and bent to human desires and worldly concerns in the way they enforce their version of the Law of God. They were bent by the sway of money, just as in how they gave in to the temptation of receiving monetary benefits from having many merchants selling their wares and goods in the courtyard of the Temple of Jerusalem.

What is the reason for all these unbecoming and wicked attitudes of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law? As mentioned in the first reading today, they are actually due to the evil and wicked fruits of the flesh, caused by the temptations of wealth, of worldly pleasures, of glory, of fame, of influence and prestige, of ambition and other forms of worldly indulgences. When these things came into the equation of one’s faith, it ends up causing the corruption of one’s own mind, heart and soul.

That is why, today we are called to discern carefully our path in life, that we should not fall into the same traps into which the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had fallen. We should not let these temptations to corrupt us and to turn us away from the path of the Lord. Instead, we should seek to purify our faith, and follow in the examples shown to us by God’s holy servants, especially that of St. Ignatius of Antioch, holy men and holy servant of God, the second bishop of Antioch.

St. Ignatius of Antioch was one of the disciples of Jesus, who was among the earliest of the Church fathers. He helped to establish the Church in the community of the faithful in the city of Antioch, where it was known that the first community of Christians outside of Judea was formed. He helped to steer the Church, both in Antioch and beyond, during difficult times of persecution and troubles, when they were persecuted by both the Jewish authorities and later on, the Romans.

St. Ignatius of Antioch suffered from the same persecution, and it was told that he was brought to Rome as part of the persecution. He wrote many letters to the faithful during that period, and these letters inspired the faithful, and became central part of the teachings of the Church as preserved by the Church fathers. He was martyred in Rome, but not before becoming beacon of faith and hope, an example for many Christians of his time.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we can see in St. Ignatius of Antioch, the flame of passion and love for the Lord, the genuine commitment which he showed before all of the people, including his tormentors and executioners. He put the Lord before all things, including that of his own desires and wishes. And in doing so, he did not allow the temptations of the evil one to enter into his heart, unlike that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

Now, are we able to follow the Lord in the same manner as that of St. Ignatius of Antioch? Surely, we can do so, if we put our heart and mind into it. Let us therefore turn ourselves thoroughly and completely to the Lord, from now on, that in all things, we may, glorify the Lord by our words, actions and deeds. May the Lord be our Guide, and may He help us to find our way to Him. Amen.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 11 : 42-46

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “A curse is on you, Pharisees! To the Temple you give a tenth of all, including mint and rue and other herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. These ought to be practiced, without neglecting the other obligations.”

“A curse is on you, Pharisees, for you love the best seats in the synagogues and to be greeted in the marketplace. A curse is on you, for you are like tombstones of the dead which can hardly be seen; people do not notice them, and make themselves unclean by stepping on them.”

Then a teacher of the Law spoke up and said, “Master, when You speak like this, You insult us, too.” And Jesus answered, “A curse is on you also, teachers of the Law. For you prepare unbearable burdens and load them on the people, while you yourselves do not move a finger to help them.”

Wednesday, 17 October 2018 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 1 : 1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Blessed is the one who does not go where the wicked gather, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit where the scoffers sit! Instead, he finds delight in the law of the Lord and meditates day and night on His commandments.

He is like a tree beside a brook producing its fruit in due season, its leaves never withering. Everything he does is a success.

But it is different with the wicked. They are like chaff driven away by the wind. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous but cuts off the way of the wicked.