Wednesday, 22 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Rita of Cascia, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 15 : 1-8

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “I am the True Vine and My Father is the Vinegrower. If any of My branches does not bear fruit, He breaks it off; and He prunes every branch that does bear fruit, that it may bear even more fruit.”

“You are already made clean by the word I have spoken to you. Live in Me as I live in you. The branch cannot bear fruit by itself, but has to remain part of the vine; so neither can you, if you do not remain in Me. I am the Vine and you are the branches. As long as you remain in Me and I in you, you bear much fruit; but apart from Me you can do nothing.”

“Whoever does not remain in Me is thrown away, as they do with branches, and they wither. Then they are gathered and thrown into the fire and burnt. If you remain in Me and My words in you, you may ask whatever you want, and it will be given to you. My Father is glorified when you bear much fruit : it is then that you become My disciples.”

Wednesday, 22 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Rita of Cascia, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 121 : 1-2, 3-4a, 4b-5

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” And now we have set foot within your gates, o Jerusalem!

Jerusalem, just like a city, where everything falls into place! There the tribes go up.

The tribes of the Lord, the assembly of Israel, to give thanks to the Lord’s Name. There stand the courts of justice, the offices of the house of David.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Rita of Cascia, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 15 : 1-6

Some persons who had come from Judea to Antioch were teaching the brothers in this way, “Unless you are circumcised according to the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.”

Because of this there was trouble, and Paul and Barnabas had fierce arguments with them. For Paul told the people to remain as they were when they became believers. Finally those who had come from Jerusalem suggested that Paul and Barnabas and some others go up to Jerusalem to discuss the matter with the Apostles and elders.

They were sent on their way by the Church. As they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria they reported how the non-Jews had turned to God, and there was great joy among all the brothers and sisters. On their arrival in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the Church, the Apostles and the elders, to whom they told all that God had done through them.

Some believers, however, who belonged to the party of the Pharisees, stood up and said that non-Jewish men must be circumcised and instructed to keep the law of Moses. So the Apostles and elders met together to consider the matter.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding us of the assurance of God, that despite the challenges and difficulties we may have to face in the midst of following Him and obeying His will, but God will never abandon us. He will bless all those who have given themselves to His cause and will provide for all of those who have been faithful to Him.

He gave us this assurance as He prepared His disciples at that time of the coming persecutions and challenges that they would have to face in the midst of opposition and rejection from those who have closed their hearts and minds off from the Lord’s truth. In the first reading we heard the continuation of the story of St. Paul and St. Barnabas, who were cast out from many of the cities where they ministered and preached the Gospel because of those who incited the crowd against them.

But they remained firm in their resolution and commitment to serve the Lord and went to more places, encouraging the faithful and the disciples of the Lord with the same assurance that God has given them, that suffering and persecution were just among the many things that they had to endure in order to be able to enjoy the fullness of the glory of God’s eternal kingdom.

God is truly leading His disciples down the path that He has showed them, despite it having challenges and difficulties, because that is exactly what He Himself has endured as He was rejected, ridiculed, humiliated, tortured and made to endure the sufferings of many on His shoulders as He lifted up and took up His Cross. If God Himself had suffered for us so grievously and with so much pain and suffering, all the more His followers will also suffer and face similar persecution.

But God assured us all that He will be with us, regardless of what happens to us, and at every moment, be it times of good or times of trouble, He will be by our side, watching over us and protecting us, just as He has been with the Apostles, encouraging them and strengthening then with the power to carry on their duties and responsibilities. And through the Holy Spirit, the Apostles inflamed many others with the same strength and courage, to remain faithful to God.

It was through these examples and inspiring efforts of those who have given themselves to God that many more people became inspired to be courageous in defending their faith and in proclaiming the truth of the Gospel. And this includes St. Christopher Magallanes and his many companions who have suffered martyrdom for their dedication to the Lord and for their courage in standing up for their faith.

St. Christopher Magallanes was one of the many martyrs who have died remaining faithful amidst the intense anti-clerical and anti-Christian persecution conducted by the Mexican government in the early twentieth century, just slightly less than a century ago. St. Christopher Magallanes and his companions had to suffer daily harassment and attacks from all those who sought the destruction of the Church, and who targetted the priests and the leaders of the Church.

But they all remained faithful and committed to God, not allowing fear to overcome them. They continued to do what they could in being faithful to God, and for St. Christopher Magallanes and the many other holy priests and shepherds of the Lord’s suffering people to minister to the people of God. They remained firm in their conviction that God was with them, and indeed, God was by their side as they suffered and endured persecution and martyrdom.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be inspired by the examples shown by our holy predecessors and commit ourselves wholeheartedly in the same way as they have done. Let us all not be disheartened and be fearful because of the persecution and the challenges we have to face, but remain firm knowing that God is always by our side. Amen.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

John 14 : 27-31a

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace be with you! I give you My peace; not as the world gives peace do I give it to you. Do not be troubled; do not be afraid. You heard Me say, ‘I am going away, but I am coming to you.’ If you loved Me, you would be glad that I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

“I have told you this now before it takes place, so that when it does happen you may believe. It is very little what I may still tell you, for the prince of this world is at hand, although there is nothing in Me that he can claim. But see, the world must know that I love the Father, and that I do what the Father has taught Me to do.”

Tuesday, 21 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 144 : 10-11, 12-13ab, 21

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o Lord, 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 endures from generation to generation.

Let my mouth speak in praise of the Lord, let every creature bless His holy Name, forever and ever.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Acts 14 : 19-28

Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and turned the people against Paul and Barnabas. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the town, leaving him for dead. But when his disciples gathered around him, he stood up and returned to the town. And the next day he left for Derbe with Barnabas.

After proclaiming the Gospel in that town and making many disciples, they returned to Lystra and Iconium and on to Antioch. They were strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain firm in the faith, for they said, “We must go through many trials to enter the Kingdom of God.”

In each Church they appointed elders and, after praying and fasting, they commended them to the Lord in Whom they had placed their faith. Then they travelled through Pisidia, and came to Pamphylia. They preached the Word in Perga and went down to Attalia. From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had first been commended to God’s grace for the task they had now completed.

On their arrival they gathered the Church together and told them all that God had done through them and how He had opened the door of faith to the non-Jews. They spent a fairly long time there with the disciples.

Monday, 20 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all reminded of the commandments that God has given to us and which He has revealed to us first of all through His servant Moses, in the form of the laws of the Old Testament, the laws of Moses, and then which He completed and revealed fully through His Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord.

The Lord assured all of us as we heard in our Gospel passage today that all those who obey His commandments will not be disappointed, as all of us who are in this world and obey His commandments will receive the promise of eternal glory and eternal life that can be found in God alone. Conversely, there can be no place in God’s presence for all those who refuse to obey the commandments of God.

And in the first reading today taken from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard of the efforts of St. Paul and St. Barnabas in the town of Lystra, where they performed miracles and signs, which the people misunderstood and misrepresented as the acts of the divine, that is their own divinity, the gods and deities of the Ancient Greco-Roman religion, of Zeus, the god of the sky, his supposed son Hercules and many other deities.

We see in these deities, in fact, the perversion of human desires and their own shortcomings, as is frequent among the polytheistic religions and customs that came before the advent of the Christian faith. For example, in the ancient Greek religion itself, many of the deities behaved no better and if not worse than that of human beings. Yes, they were supposedly powerful and mighty, with supernatural powers and control over the elements, but their behaviours were often debauched, a reflection of the imperfect humans who created them.

And all these were caused by man’s of self-desire to love themselves, to benefit themselves and to gain for themselves as much as can be profitable for them. They saw in their gods and deities a reflection of themselves, in what they hoped to achieve, more worldly power, more money and wealth, more sexual pleasures and many other forms of the indulgence of the flesh and the body and mind, and many other indulgences and pleasures.

That was why, they failed to recognise God’s truth being present in their midst, just as they mistook St. Paul and St. Barnabas as being the gods they coveted and worshipped being present right in their midst. But the Apostles presented to them the truth, that it was not all those false deities or human beings that should be worshipped, but God alone, the One and only True God. They did not allow themselves to be swayed by pride and desire for power, and that was exactly why the people there then must have been dumbfounded.

After all, who does not desire power and glory. If we can put ourselves in the shoes of the Apostles at that time, seeing the population of a whole city coming to you and bowing down before you as if you were gods and divinities surely would make you proud and arrogant, thinking that you are someone special and powerful. But that was where the Apostles clearly made their stand and resisted the temptation.

Instead, they firmly held onto their faith in God, remembering that first and foremost, it is God alone Who deserves such kind of love and adoration, and they put God before themselves and cast aside their pride and desire. They also loved their fellow brethren so dearly that they were willing to spend the time to explain to them the truth so that they would not fall into the wrong path or continue down the path of debauchery and sin.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, how about we ourselves? How have we lived our lives thus far? Have we been obedient to God’s will and commandments, or have we instead acted and done things according to our own selfish desires and wants? If we have been mostly doing the latter actions, then perhaps now is the time for us to reflect and begin making a change, by not putting ourselves and our own interests ahead of the obligations we have to God and the love which we ought to show our fellow brethren.

It was what St. Bernardine of Siena, who is today’s saint, had done with his own life. He was well known for his preaching against all kinds of immoral conduct, which ultimately stemmed from humanity’s prideful and selfish desires, and did a lot of work in trying to bring as many as possible to God’s redemption. He had many challenges, and not few opposed his work, but regardless, he continued to do the good works of God, loving God and his fellow men.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He continue to guide us all in out journey of life, and give us the courage and strength to be able to resist the temptation of pride and desire, and instead follow the good examples of the Apostles St. Paul and St. Barnabas, and St. Bernardine of Siena in their tireless and loving dedication to God. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 20 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 14 : 21-26

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever keeps My commandments is the one who loves Me. If he loves Me, he will also be loved by My Father; I too shall love him and show Myself clearly to him.”

Judas – not Judas Iscariot – asked Jesus, “Lord, how can it be that You will show Yourself clearly to us and not to the world!” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word and My Father will love him; and We will come to him and make a room in his home.”

“But if anyone does not love Me, he will not keep My words; and these words that you hear are not Mine, but the Father’s Who sent Me. I told you all this while I was still with you. From now on the Helper, the Holy Spirit Whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I have told you.”

Monday, 20 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 113B : 1-2, 3-4, 15-16

Not to us, o Lord, not to us, but to Your Name be the glory, for the sake of Your love and faithfulness. Why should the pagans say, “Where is their God?”

There in heaven is our God; whatever He wishes, He does. Not so the hand-made idols, crafted in silver and gold.

May you be blessed by the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth. Heaven belongs to the Lord, but the earth He has given to humans.