Wednesday, 1 May 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, just as the secular world celebrates the occasion of Labour Day or May Day. On this day we recall the good examples set by St. Joseph, who is the foster-father of Our Lord and Saviour, and also the head of the Holy Family as its protector and guide. The Church respects and honours St. Joseph as its protector, its role model and as a great saint, precisely because of his uprightness in life and his devotion to his mission, entrusted to him by God.

St. Joseph was a mere carpenter, and yet, his many virtues and courage have been extolled and honoured throughout the centuries by the Church. At that time, as it is indeed still today, the profession of a carpenter is often one that is looked down upon by the people, forgotten and taken for granted, as without carpenters, a lot of our daily activities, and even more so at the time of Jesus’ life, could not have happened properly.

As carpenters made the tools necessary for daily living, basic activities such as farming, fishing, and even houses and furnitures, their work was truly crucial for the survival of the community at the time, and yet, despite the hard labour and many hours they had to spend with the hammer and chisel, in high risk of injury and exhaustion, their role and contributions were often overlooked and ignored by the society in general.

The bias and prejudice can be very clearly seen in our Gospel passage today, when we heard how the people of Nazareth, the hometown where the Lord Jesus lived in and spent His early years, together with His family as the adopted Son of St. Joseph, the village carpenter. And the people came to know Him as the Son of a carpenter, and therefore, when He came before them full of age and full of divine wisdom, proclaiming the truth of God before all of them, they found it hard to believe in His words and in His truth.

They ridiculed Him and refused to believe in Him, because to them the Lord was no better than a mere Son of a carpenter, a poor and humble job, often overlooked and ignored, treated with contempt and ignorance at best. To them a carpenter is an uneducated person and a poor and belonging to the lowest of the lowest just as many of the people in Nazareth were. And that was why, out of either disbelief or jealousy, the people there refused to believe in the Lord.

But the Lord carried on doing His works, and although He was distraught that those people refused to believe in Him, He did not let it affect His commitment to do what His heavenly Father has entrusted to Him. He must have experienced many of such injustices, biases, and challenges that His poor carpenter’s family must have experienced, at a time when the people also suffered oppression under both the Romans and the Herodian kings.

Surely, He must have learnt it also through His foster-father, St. Joseph himself, the carpenter whom everyone probably often looked down upon. St. Joseph, although poor and had to labour very hard to make ends meet, as carpentry did not give a lot of provisions and income, but he was upright and just in all things, obedient to the Law of God, pious and faithful, and responsible to whatever he was entrusted with, including his role as the protector of the Holy Family.

He went all the extra mile, both figuratively and literally, when the Lord entrusted to Him the care for His Saviour, Jesus Christ, and His mother, Mary, whom St. Joseph took care as wife and as a dutiful husband and father to both of them. He escorted and protected them all the way as there were difficulties and oppositions along the way, all those who wanted the Lord Jesus dead, and even brought both Mary and the Baby Jesus into Egypt to protect them from all of His enemies.

In all of these, we should have seen just how dedicated, hardworking and faithful St. Joseph was. And that is why he is seen as the patron, role model and protector for all workers. And we should indeed ask St. Joseph for his protection and intercession, that all of us may be good workers and good labourers in our respective fields and responsibilities, and for those among us who have not yet worked or have retired from our work, that we will be able to emulate his examples in living up a virtuous Christian life from now on if we have not done so.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be ever more faithful and be dedicated to the Lord, and let us all turn to Him through the examples of St. Joseph, holy worker and holy servant of God, that by following his examples we may draw ever closer to God and be more worthy Christians, day after day of our life. May God be with us always, and may He give us the strength and the courage to live our lives faithfully. Amen.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 16-21

At that time, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through Him the world is to be saved.”

“Whoever believes in Him will not be condemned. He who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God. This is how the Judgment is made : Light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

“For whoever does wrong hates the light, and does not come to the light, for fear that his deeds will be seen as evil. But whoever lives according to the truth comes into the light, so that it can be clearly seen that his works have been done in God.”

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Matthew 13 : 54-58

At that time, Jesus went to His hometown and taught the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and said, “Where did He get this wisdom and these special powers? Is He not the carpenter’s Son? Is Mary not His mother and are James, Joseph, Simon and Judas not His brothers? Are not all His sisters living here? How did He get all this?” And so they took offence at Him.

Jesus said to them, “The only place where prophets are not welcome is their hometown and in their own family.” And He did not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 33 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

I will bless the Lord all my days; His praise will be ever on my lips. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the lowly hear and rejoice.

Oh, let us magnify the Lord, together let us glorify His Name! I sought the Lord, and He answered me; from all my fears He delivered me.

They who look to Him are radiant with joy, their faces never clouded with shame. When the poor cry out, the Lord hears and saves them from distress.

The Lord’s Angel encamps and patrols to keep safe those who fear Him. Oh, see and taste the goodness of the Lord! Blessed is the one who finds shelter in Him!

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Psalm 89 : 2, 3-4, 12-13, 14 and 16

Before the mountains were formed, before You made the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity – You are God.

You turn humans back to dust, saying, “Return, o mortals!” A thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has passed, or like a watch in the night.

So make us know the shortness of our life, that we may gain wisdom of heart. How long will You be angry, o Lord? Have mercy on Your servant.

Fill us at daybreak with Your goodness, that we may be glad all our days. Let Your work be seen by Your servants and Your glorious power by their children.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 5 : 17-26

The High Priest and all his supporters, that is the party of the Sadducees, became very jealous of the Apostles; so they arrested them and had them thrown into the public jail. But an Angel of the Lord opened the door of the prison during the night, brought them out, and said to them, “Go and stand in the Temple court and tell the people the whole of this living message.” Accordingly they entered the Temple at dawn and resumed their teaching.

When the High Priest and his supporters arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin, that is the full Council of the elders of Israel. They sent word to the jail to have the prisoners brought in. But when the Temple guards arrived at the jail, they did not find them inside, so they returned with the news, “We found the prison securely locked and the prison guards at their post outside the gate, but when we opened the gate, we found no one inside.”

Upon hearing these words, the captain of the Temple guard and the high priests were baffled, wondering where all of this would end. Just then someone arrived with the report, “Look, those men whom you put in prison are standing in the Temple, teaching the people.” Then the captain went off with the guards and brought them back, but without any show of force, for fear of being stoned by the people.

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Genesis 1 : 26 – Genesis 2 : 3

God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, to Our likeness. Let them rule over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, over the cattle, over the wild animals, and over all creeping things that crawl along the ground.” So God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it, rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, over every living creature that moves on the ground.” God said, “I have given you every seed bearing plants which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree that bears fruit with seed. It will be for your food. To every wild animal, to every bird of the sky, to everything that creeps along the ground, to everything that has the breath of life, I give every green plant for food.” So it was.

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. There was evening and there was morning : the sixth day. That was the way the sky and earth were created and all their vast array. By the seventh day the work God had done was completed, and He rested on the seventh day from all the work He had done. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day He rested from all the work He had done in His creation.

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Colossians 3 : 14-15, 17, 23-24

Above all, clothe yourselves with love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. May the peace of Christ overflow in your hearts; for this end you were called to be one body. And be thankful. And whatever you do or say, do it in the Name of Jesus, the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly, working for the Lord, and not for humans. You well know, that the Lord will reward you with the inheritance. You are servants, but your Lord is Christ.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Scripture passages reminding each and every one of us of the things that all of us have to do in our respective lives as Christians, that is as members of our one Church community, the community of the Body of Christ. All of us share this same faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, Whom has revealed before Nicodemus the faithful Pharisee, what He would do for the sake of all mankind, in our Gospel passage today.

The Lord revealed the all powerful and all enduring love of God for us all mankind, that although each and every one of us have sinned and rebelled against Him, but God still ‘so loved the world’, that He sent us all a Saviour, in the form of His own Beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Himself, so that through Him all may have the new hope of eternal life and redemption via the salvation He has brought into this world.

And He also revealed how He would do this by being lifted up high like that of the moment when the bronze serpent of Moses was lifted up in the desert. In that instance, the people of Israel during their Exodus from Egypt and the journey towards the Promised Land refused to believe in God and rebelled against Him. As a result, God sent fiery serpents that bit many among them and many died because of those serpents.

When the people repented and begged God for forgiveness, God showed His love, compassion and mercy by asking Moses to make an image of the serpent in bronze and mounting it up on a tall staff, so that everyone who has been bitten by the serpents and saw the bronze serpent would not die but live. God did this as a prefigurement of what He would Himself do, for the salvation of all mankind, through Jesus, Our Lord.

For the Lord was also lifted up high on the Cross, bearing all of our sins and faults which should have been our undoing and destruction. He gathered all of them upon Himself and suffered for our sake, so that by His suffering and death, He may release us and free us from the bondage to sin and therefore from our fated death and destruction. And He has willingly borne all of these, all the agony, pain and suffering out of His love for each and every one of us.

It is exactly this love which the Apostles and the other followers of the Lord imitated in their own lives, which is also in accordance with what He Himself commanded His disciples to do, that is to love one another as they love themselves, and to love each other and to serve one another, just in the same way as the Lord has loved them and served them. That is why in our first reading today, we heard of how the very earliest Christian communities lived, loving and caring for the needs of others, and sharing the blessings that God has given them.

But unfortunately many of us Christians today do not live in this manner. In fact, we are often so busy and so distracted by the many temptations of the world, of the temptations of money, of worldly pleasures, power, ambition and desire, that we often acted selfishly towards one another, caring only about ourselves and our own selfish desires, often even causing hurt and pain, suffering and unhappiness among us in our Christian communities.

That is why, today all of us are called to take a step back and reflect on our own lives and in particular, how we have lived our lives thus far. Have we truly been faithful to God and been good Christians in our words, actions or deeds? Or are we like those hypocrites who profess to have faith in God and yet have no love for God and love for our fellow men in us? And we should also look upon the good examples shown by our holy predecessors, especially our saint today, Pope St. Pius V.

Pope St. Pius V was remembered for his piety and dedication to the Lord, especially in his great leadership of the Church that was then battered with many challenges and oppositions both from outside and from inside the Church, with the reformation heresies and falsehoods tearing the unity of the Church apart and external enemies threatening to destroy the entire Christendom. He successfully concluded the great Council of Trent, which reformed the Church practices and enforced discipline.

The holy Pope and saint devoted his life and ministry to purify the excesses and wickedness that have crept into the Church at the time, while labouring hard to overcome the many issues and challenges that the Church had to endure at the time. Pope St. Pius V dedicated himself to love the people of God just as how God Himself loved us so much, that He went through all the troubles and pains, all the sufferings and the agony just so that He can bring to us His salvation and the eternal life He promised us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, following the examples of this holy saint and servant of God, and also imitating the good examples of the early Christian communities, let us all be more faithful and loving towards God and to our fellow men. Let us all be inspiration and examples for each other, so that many more people may come to believe through us and our examples in life. May God be with us all, and may He bless us all in our good works for His sake. Amen.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 7b-15

Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again from above. The wind blows where it pleases and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus asked again, “How can this be?” And Jesus answered, “You are a teacher in Israel, and you do not know these things! Truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we witness to the things we have seen, but you do not accept Our testimony. If you do not believe when I speak of earthly things, what then, when I speak to you of heavenly things? No one has ever gone up to heaven except the One Who came from heaven, the Son of Man.”

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.”

Tuesday, 30 April 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 92 : 1ab, 1c-2, 5

YHVH reigns, robed in majesty; YHVH is girded with strength.

The world now, is firm; it cannot be moved. Your throne stands from long ago, o YHVH; from all eternity You are.

Your decrees can be trusted; holiness dwells in Your House, day after day, without end, o YHVH.